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Martin Read established a musical base far from London’s fidgety hothouse to get on with the business of making smart music in a culture that often over-rewards the dumb and / or well connected.

John L. Walters, The Guardian

…an unusual, austere yet radiant harmonic sense.

The Singer



Martin Read was born in Birmingham, and having attended Bishop Vesey’s Grammer School, studied music at Colchester Institute and Goldsmiths, London University, where he gained a masters in composition. In 1988 he was admitted as a Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London (FTCL)  and from 1996 to 2002 was a shortlisted composer with the Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM).

His music has been performed by numerous ensembles and choirs, and has featured at many contemporary music festivals, including Spittalfields, Southern Cathedrals, Corsham, Malvern, Farnham, Bath and Huddersfield. His music has also been performed across the USA and Europe. Berlin-based Saxophonquadrat has taken his Earth Waiting to Belgrade, Skopje and Bitola.

In May 1999 Martin was appointed as millennium composer to the Hampshire 2000 project, a position which required him to write for a large number of Hampshire county, area and school ensembles, including his cantata The Death of Colonel Boles performed here at MRF '23. The 2000 project culminated in Martin conducting around 700 young performers in his Mary Rose in the Schools Prom in the Royal Albert Hall, April 2000. 

Other performances of his works have included:

The Angel of History, commissioned and premiered by Camarada at the Radio Café, Vienna, 1998.

A Song of Bale and Bitter Sorrow, commissioned by the Bath Festival and premiered there by Alpha Beta Gamelan and broadcast on Radio 3, 2000.

Dance to the End of Time – chamber opera, commissioned with the aid of a grant from Southern Arts, was premiered at Corsham Festival 2002, and subsequently toured southern England.

In 2009, Rainforest, an earlier commission by Opera Minima, was revived and toured to 10 East Midlands venues.

May 2010 saw performances of Roundabout Basingstoke, a cantata commissioned by Anvil Arts for Basingstoke’s adult music-making ensembles with professional musicians.

July 2010 saw the culmination of The Sea Woman (click each word in the title in turn for film links to scenes 1,2 & 3), a performance project based on a Scottish folk tale, devised and created with young people and performed the great acclaim at the Winchester Festival.

Martin’s final commission was Troper Fragment, a work for cello and piano for the cellist Joseph Spooner.

At the time of his sudden death, 2012, Martin was devising a pub opera, working on Hampshire Music Service’s composition project Create the Future, and undertaking studies towards a PhD at Brunel University under the supervision of Peter Wiegold.

Martin’s music is published by Banks, Editions a Coeur Joie and Fand Music Press.

Martin's Setting of John Donne's Sonnet: Death be Not Proud was performed by Oxford-based choir Commotio in November 2018, under the direction of Matthew Berry.



Martin’s music teaching career was based in Alton, Hampshire, starting in 1981 at Eggars School and moving to Alton College in 1989. In the early 1990s he set Ariel Songs for the college production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, here recorded with Timothy Pride, counter tenor and Sylvia Harper, cor anglais, with Martin on tubular bells (keyboard).

Martin wrote:

It has been my privilege to teach many exciting musicians through the years, including conductor Timothy Redmond, bass player Tom Mason, saxophonist & composer Chloe Potter, 4/5th of the (original) World Service Project, composers Richard Barnard and Emma-Ruth Richards, and singer-songwriter composers Gwyneth Herbert, Fini Bearman, Lisbee Stainton and Rachel Dadd – to name but a few.

Composing has now become a larger

part of A level music and

Hampshire Music Service agreed to

expand their Awards Scheme to young composers as well as instrumentalists, by way of one-to-one lessons in composition. Through this scheme I have been able to broaden the minds of some excellent young composers, including: Laura Jurd (Dankworth prize winner for jazz composition, 2011) and Hannah Dilkes (BBC Proms young composer competition winner, 2011).

   Martin's Fand Music publications

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