British composer and teacher Simon Bainbridge was born in London on 30 August 1952 and studied at the Royal College of Music with John Lambert and then at Tanglewood with Gunther Schuller. He began to make his name as a composer while still a student, with Spirogyra (1970) which was performed at the 1971 Aldeburgh Festival. This led to a commission for the Yale Quartet from Andre Previn for a string quartet for the 1972 South Bank Summer Music Festival.
During the 1980s and 90s Bainbridge wrote a series of large scale works such as Fantasia for Double Orchestra (1983), Double Concerto (1990), Toccata for Orchestra (1992), Landscape and Memory (1995, a horn concerto) and the 1998 Three Pieces for Orchestra.
Bainbridge's music was often influenced by American culture. His 1994 orchestral song cycle Ad Ora Incerta won the 1997 Grawemeyer Award.
From 1999 until 2007 he was head of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and continued to teach there later as a senior composition professor. He also taught at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea and at Juilliard, Yale and the Boston and New England music conservatories in the USA.
Other notable works include Chant (a re-working of Hildegard of Bingen for 12 amplified voices and orchestra, first performed in York Minster by the BBC Singers and BBC Philharmonic in 1999) and Voiles (2002, for solo bassoon and twelve strings, commissioned by Radio France for Pascal Gallois, and performed by him in France and the UK).
Simon Bainbridge died during the evening of 2 April 2021, aged sixty-nine.
Classical music news - April 2021 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month
Ensemble. Prism of Time - Malcolm Miller looks back to a Simon Bainbridge performance last summer, and forward to Wigmore Hall's Bainbridge Study Day this month
Ensemble. Boundaries of the Possible - Malcolm Miller admires Simon Bainbridge's new BBC commission, 'Diptych'
Ensemble. Renewal and Revitalisation - Malcolm Miller enjoys the London Jewish Male Choir's 80th anniversary concert