Anthony Payne

Anthony Edward Payne (2 August 1936 – 30 April 2021) was an English composer, music critic and writer.[1] He is best known for his 1997 completion of Edward Elgar's third symphony, titled Edward Elgar: The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 elaborated by Anthony Payne; the work has subsequently gained wide acceptance into Elgar's oeuvre. His own works include representatives of most traditional genres—apart from opera—but he is particularly noted for his chamber music. Many of these chamber works were written for his wife, the soprano Jane Manning, and the new music ensemble Jane's Minstrels, which he founded with Manning in 1988. Initially an unrelenting proponent of avant-garde modernism, by the 1980s his compositions had embraced aspects of the late romanticism of England, which Susan Bradshaw described as "modernized nostalgia". His mature style is thus characterized by a highly individualized combination of an English-Romantic sentiment with modernism, as well as numerology, wide spaced harmonies and strict rhythms.[2]

Anthony Payne
Anthony Edward Payne

(1936-08-02)2 August 1936
London, UK
Died30 April 2021(2021-04-30) (aged 84)
  • Composer
  • Music critic
  • Writer
Known forSymphony No. 3 (Elgar/Payne)
Chamber music
Notable work
List of compositions
Spouse(s)Jane Manning
AwardsElgar Medal

Born in London, Payne did not come from a particularly musical background but studied music at Dulwich College and Durham University. Though he had begun composing as a child, his professional career began around 1965, with pieces such as the Phoenix Mass (1965) and Paraphrases and Cadenzas (1969)—both of which he would later revise. These works were firmly rooted in the modernist style, but by the 1980s, he began to embrace the English tradition, exemplified in A Day in the Life of a Mayfly (1981). His first full orchestral work followed in this vein, The Spirit’s Harvest (1985), and he later created a completed version of Elgar's third symphony, which brought him international attention and future commissions of a similar nature. Among these were other completions of works by Elgar as well as orchestrations of Elgar, Finzi and Delius works.[2] Later major works include four commissions for the BBC Proms, Time’s Arrow (1990), Visions and Journeys (2002), The Period of Cosmographie (2010) and Of Land, Sea and Sky (2016).[3] He died in April 2021, a month after the death of his wife.

Payne held academic posts at various institutions throughout his career, including the London College of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Western Australia.[2] A renowned critic,[1] he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Country Life. Other writings include publications on a variety of musical topics, notably Schoenberg (1968)—a study on the composer Arnold Schoenberg—and numerous works on the music of Frank Bridge, to whom he was particularly devoted.

Life and careerEdit

Early lifeEdit

Anthony Edward Payne was born in London on 2 August 1936 to Edward and Muriel (née Stroud) Payne;[4] his father was a civil servant.[5] He did not come from a particularly musical background,[6] though at the age of 10 went to see relatives in Godalming, and first experienced classical music by hearing a recording of Brahms's Symphony No. 1.[1] Payne himself recalled the significance of the moment, saying he was "was absolutely translated" and that he was "hooked like a fish".[1][5] A recording he was given the next year of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 solidified his interest; he began composing at around age 11.[6] His initial compositional influences were the late romantics, Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams.[1]

He first studied music at Dulwich College under Stanley Wilson. After a brief stint in the Royal Corps of Signals (1958–1961) he continued studying music at Music at St Cuthbert's Society, Durham University.[6] At this time, working with Peter Evans assisted the growth of his musical maturity.[6] He then spent a period as a freelance musicologist.[2]

Emerging composerEdit

Since the mid-1960s when he composed his Phoenix Mass, he has received commissions for new works from several important ensembles, including the English Chamber Orchestra and the Nash Ensemble.[1] Three major orchestral works: The Spirit's Harvest (1985), Time's Arrow (1990), Visions and Journeys (2002) and Of Land, Sea and Sky (2016) were all premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at The Proms in London. He has also composed a Concerto for Orchestra (1974) and other orchestral pieces, as well as chamber, instrumental and choral works. His String Quartet No. 2 (2010) won the Chamber category of the 2011 British Composer Awards.[7]

In 1988 he co-founded the "questing young ensemble"[8] Jane's Minstrels with his wife, the soprano Jane Manning.[1] Amongst his ensemble pieces, A Day in the Life of a Mayfly and Symphonies of Wind and Rain (composed for and recorded by Jane's Minstrels) are considered particularly effective. Although Payne's realisations of several works by Elgar have brought him considerable notice and acclaim, he has also composed a Frederick Delius paraphrase entitled Spring's Shining Wake (1981) and has transcribed songs by Peter Warlock for Jane's Minstrels.[4]

Completion of Elgar's Third SymphonyEdit

Payne's realisation of the sketches for Edward Elgar's Third Symphony took several years to complete. When Elgar died in 1934, he left more than 130 pages of incomplete score for a third symphony. Although initially reluctant to allow anyone to use this material (Elgar himself had expressed a wish that no-one should "tinker" with the sketches), the Elgar family realised that in 2005 the sketches would come out of copyright. They therefore approved Payne's elaboration of the sketches, on which he had been working and lecturing intermittently since 1993, and he subsequently completed the piece.[1] Payne's version of the symphony was first performed in 1998 to immediate acclaim, and has received numerous subsequent performances and several recordings.[2][4]

Further commissionsEdit

Payne subsequently also composed a version of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6 from Elgar's incomplete sketches for the work, which received its first performance under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis at a Prom concert on 2 August 2006 – Payne's 70th birthday. During a radio interview on the BBC's Today on 28 April 2006, when he was asked about the March, Payne said that he had composed about 43% of the music and carried out all of the orchestration, amounting to well over half the piece. In the same interview he said that to carry out his completions he felt that he had to try to "become" Elgar, in much the same way that an actor would assume a stage role.[4]

Payne was awarded an Elgar Medal by the Elgar Society, and held honorary doctorates from the universities of Birmingham, Durham and Kingston.[2] He was a fellow of the Royal College of Music, where he was arts research fellow for two years.[1]


Payne died on 30 April 2021.[5] He was 84, and died a month after the death of his wife, which reportedly affected his health.[1] His collegue and fellow composer Colin Matthews noted that "They were inseparable in life, and I suppose it's not a surprise that he would follow her so soon after".[1] Payne and Manning had no children,[4] but were survived by a nephew and two nieces.[5]


Alongside his career as a composer, Payne simultaneously built up a reputation as a writer on music, both as an author of books about Arnold Schoenberg and Frank Bridge[1] and as a music critic for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Country Life.[2] He was a visiting lecturer at a number of universities in Britain, Australia and the U.S..[4][2]

Personal lifeEdit

Payne was married, in 1966, to the soprano Jane Manning for whom he composed a number of vocal works including the song-cycle Evening Land. In 2007, the couple were jointly awarded honorary doctorates by Durham University.[4]

List of compositionsEdit

List of compositions by Anthony Payne[2]
Title Year Genre
Suite from a Forgotten Ballet 1955
rev. 1985
Contrapuncti 1958
rev. 1979
solo string quartet; string orchestra
Concerto for Orchestra 1974 Orchestral
Song of the Clouds 1979–80 Orchestral
solo oboe, 2 horns, perc, string orchestra
Spring’s Shining Wake 1980–81 Orchestral
Songs and Seascapes 1984 Orchestral
string orchestra
The Spirit’s Harvest 1985 Orchestral
Half-Heard in the Stillness 1987 Orchestral
Time’s Arrow 1989–90 Orchestral
Symphonies of Wind and Rain 1991 Orchestral
Hidden Music 1992 Orchestral
Orchestral Variations: The Seeds Long Hidden 1992–4 Orchestral
Visions and Journeys 2001–2 Orchestral
Bright Cecilia, Variations on a Theme of Purcell[a]
with Lindberg, C. Matthews, Ruders, Sawer, Torke and Weir
2002 Orchestral
Windows on Eternity 2006–7 Orchestral
The Period of Cosmographie 2009 Orchestral
Fire on Whaleness 1975–6 Brass
Brass band, perc
Fanfares and Processional 1986 Brass
hn, 4 tpt, 4 trbn, tuba
Echoes of Courtly Love 1987 Brass
hn, tpt, flugel hn, trbn, tuba
River-race 1990 Brass
4 hn, 4 tpt, 4 trbn, tuba, perc
Paraphrases and Cadenzas 1969
rev. 1978
cl, va, pf
Sonatas and Ricercars 1970–71 Chamber
fl, ob, cl, bn, hn
String Quartet 1978 Chamber
String quartet
Footfalls Echo in the Memory 1978 Chamber
vn, pf
The Stones and Lonely Places Sing 1978–9 Chamber
fl + pic, cl + b cl, hn, pf, vn, va, vc
A Day in the Life of a Mayfly 1981 Chamber
fl + pic, cl, perc, pf, vn, vc
The Song Streams in the Firmament 1986 Chamber
cl, 2 vn, va, vc, db
Consort Music 1987–8 Chamber
2 vn, 2 va, vc
A 1940s Childhood 1986–7 Chamber
fl, gui
1989 Chamber
fl, hp
Sea-Change 1988 Chamber
fl, cl, hp, 2 vn, va, vc
The Enchantress Plays 1990 Chamber
bn, pf
Empty Landscape – Heart’s Ease 1994–5 Chamber
ob, cl, hn, vn, va, vc
Engines and Islands 1996 Chamber
fl, cl, perc, pf, vn, va, vc
Piano Trio 1988 Chamber
Piano trio
Of Knots and Skeins 2000 Chamber
vn, pf
Horn Trio 2005–6 Chamber
Horn trio
Piano Quintet 2007 Chamber
Piano quintet
Out of the Depths Comes Song 2008 Chamber
vc, pf
From a Mouthful of Air 2009 Chamber
tpt, hp, vn, va, vc
Instrumental solos
Paean 1971 Solo
Miniature Variations on a Theme of E.L. 1980 Solo
Reflections in the Sea of Glass 1983 Solo
Amid the Winds of Evening 1987 Solo
Micro-Sonata 1997 Solo
Hommage to Debussy 1998 Solo
Storm Chorale 2003 Solo
Conundrum 2004 Solo
Choral and vocal
Phoenix Mass 1965
rev. 1972
Choral and vocal
SATB, 3 trumpet, 3 trombone
Two Songs without Words 1970 Choral and vocal
5 male voices
A Little Passiontide Cant
(Text from 14th-century England)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
First Sight of Her and After
(Text by Thomas Hardy)
1975 Choral and vocal
16 solo voices
1988 Choral and vocal
SATB, ob, cl, bn, hn, perc, vn, va, vc, db
The World’s Winter
(Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
1976 Choral and vocal
Soprano, flute + piccolo, oboe, clarinet
The Sea of Glass
(Text from the Book of Revelations)
1977 Choral and vocal
SATB, organ
A Little Ascension Cant
(Text attributed to Cynewulf)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
A Little Whitsuntide Cant
(Text by Emily Brontë)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
Evening Land
(Text by Pär Lagerkvist)
1980–81 Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano
A Little Christmas Cant
(Text from traditional carol texts)
1983 Choral and vocal
Alleluias and Hockets
(after Machaut)
1987 Choral and vocal
SATB, 2 ob, eng hn, 2 bn, 2 tpt, 3 trbn
(Text by Edward Thomas)
1989 Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano
Break, break, break
(Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
1996 Choral and vocal
From the Woodlanders
(Text by Thomas Hardy)
1999 Choral and vocal
Soprano, 2 clarinets, violin, cello
Betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross
(Text by Francis Thompson)
2001 Choral and vocal
Poems of Edward Thomas
(Text by Edward Thomas)
2002–3 Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano, violin, vila, cello
Ghost Train
(Text by Payne, after Pär Lagerkvist)
2008 Choral and vocal
Baritone, pf
The Headland
(Ursula Vaughan Williams)
2008 Choral and vocal
Mezzo soprano, piano


Recordings of compositions by Anthony Payne
Year Album Piece(s) Performers Label
1996 Time’s Arrow Time’s Arrow BBC Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Davis
NMC D037S[9]

Selected bibliographyEdit


  • Payne, Anthony (1968). Schoenberg. Oxford Studies of Composers. London: Oxford University Press. OCLC 915854222.
  • ——; Foreman, Lewis; Bishop, John (1976). The Music of Frank Bridge. London: Thames Publishing. ISBN 978-0-905210-02-5.
  • —— (1984). Frank Bridge: Radical and Conservative. London: Thames Publishing. ISBN 978-0-905210-25-4.
  • —— (1998). Elgar’s Third Symphony: The Story of the Reconstruction. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-19538-1. OCLC 247161355.



  1. ^ The work set to variations was Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia
  2. ^ Grove notes that Payne, Hindmarsh & Foreman 2001 has been superseded by Huss, Fabian (2001). "Bridge, Frank". Grove Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.90000361257.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Savage 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bradshaw 2010.
  3. ^ "Prom 15: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis – Tchaikovsky's Tempest, Anthony Payne's Of Land, Sea and Sky, Vaughan Williams's Toward the Unknown Region – Ray Chen plays Bruch; Composers in Conversation". Classical Source. Archived from the original on 28 October 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g The Telegraph 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Millington 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Northcott 1975, p. 36.
  7. ^ British Composer Awards winners announced Archived 5 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine (2011). The Gramophone website, Thursday 1 December 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  8. ^ Bayan Northcott, 1997, sleeve note to the CD, A Day in the Life of a Mayfly
  9. ^ "Time's arrow (Music, 1996)". WorldCat. Retrieved 9 May 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit