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Robert Walker

Born: 1946

Nationality: British

Publisher: Novello & Co

Photo © Jayne West

Robert Walker was a chorister at St Matthew’s, the remarkable Northampton church that commissioned work from Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Britten. After studying at Cambridge (1965–8), five years as Director of Music at Grimsby Parish Church (1968–73), Walker made the decision to become a full-time composer in 1978. For many years his base was Brinkwells, the Sussex cottage where Elgar wrote his Cello Concerto. He founded the festival in the nearby town of Petworth. From 1982 to 1991 he was a professor of composition at the London College of Music.

His style is well described by his own note on his Piano Quintet: ‘Vernacular materials are strongly evident, and there’s no attempt to be stylistically pure. Old forms, shapes and tonalities rub shoulders with more contemporary devices’. In this, Walker was years ahead of fashion, and suffered official neglect as a result, much to the bewilderment of his enthusiastic audiences. In 1992 Walker left Britain to live in Bali. He remained in Asia for 14 years, but returned to his roots in Northamptonshire in 2004.
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