Ed Hughes


New Website by Katie Vandyck launched 

Ed's new website features audio and video with a comprehensive work list. 

New Music Players: Ed Hughes at 50

The New Music Players marked founder and artistic director Ed Hughes's 50th birthday with a concert at the Warehouse, Waterloo, London on Friday 28 September 2018. Featuring the world premiere performance of 'Sinfonia', a new work for 17 players inspired by composers of the English Renaissance, and his seminal 1991 piano trio 'Media Vita'. Ed tracked his progress as he researched and composed 'Sinfonia' on his blog

Brighton Festival Commission for 'Cuckmere: A Portrait' 5 and 6 May 2018

Ed Hughes collaborated with filmmaker Cesca Eaton to create 'Cuckmere: A Portrait', a 30' score with silent film about the Cuckmere Valley and Cuckmere Haven. The Brighton Festival commissioned the piece. The Orchestra of Sound and Light conducted by Ed Hughes gave the world premiere performance at the ACCA, University of Sussex, on 5 May 2018 in the full, chamber orchestra version for 18 players. The Orchestra of Sound and Light Quintet then gave the world premiere performance of the quintet version on Sunday 6 May, as the first half of a concert featuring 33 new works by GCSE and A level student composers, devised and written as part of a two-year education project funded by Arts Council England and directed by Ed Hughes and Cesca Eaton. Video and photos here

New Work for Tallis Festival

Ed Hughes curated a Tallis Festival for the ACCA at the University of Sussex in February 2018. The programme included the New Music Players performing the world premiere of Ed's 'Tallis [in ieiunio et fletu]

Brighton Festival Commission for 'Brighton: Symphony of a City' May 2016 plus DVD 

Ed Hughes was commissioned by the Brighton Festival to write a new 45' full orchestral score to a new film by Lizzie Thynne. 'Brighton: Symphony of a City' was premiered by the Orchestra of Sound and Light at a sold-out Brighton Dome on Wed 11 May 2016. Brighton: Symphony of a City will be released on DVD by Metier/Divine in 2017. 

Ed Hughes premiere at Cornerstone Festival, Liverpool Mon 23 November

Pianist Clare Hammond premiered Ed Hughes's 'The Nose' at the Cornerstone Festival in Liverpool on Monday 23 November 2015. Commissioned by Clare, Ed has written a new score to Alexander Alexeiff and Claire Parker's extraordinary 1963 'pinscreen' film, inspired by Nikolai Gogol's dream-like story of a government official whose nose goes missing. Full details here. Further performances at Kings Place in London on 9 April, at Cardiff University on the 12 April, and at the Cheltenham Festival in July 2016 plus the University of York and the Sound Festival, Aberdeen in 2017. 

Pianists Richard Casey and Joseph Houston performed Ed Hughes's 'Night Music' on tour across the UK and Europe in January and February 2015, including the world premiere performance of the complete version for piano, electronics and strings at the Brighton Science Festival, promoted by MOOT. Full tour details here

Joseph Houston performs Ed Hughes: Night Music in Oxford

Joseph Houston, piano and Danny Bright, electronics perform Ed Hughes: Night Music, Jacquline du Pre Music Building, University of Oxford, February 2015


Ed Hughes's 'Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey' won the Liturgical Category at the British Composer Awards 2014. Full details here

Ed Hughes receives his British Composer Award from Dame Evelyn Glennie

Ed Hughes receives his Award from Dame Evelyn Glennie at the British Composer Awards 2014


The Lake District Summer Music Festival 2014 commissioned Ed to write a new work for mezzo soprano, viola and piano. The resulting work, 'Against that time... Against my love' sets three Shakespeare Sonnets and was premiered by Kathryn Rudge, Garfield Jackson and Duncan Glenday on 5 August 2014. Listen on Ed's Soundcloud page here

Ed Hughes's opera 'When the Flame Dies' was released on CD and DVD by Divine/Metier in November 2013 and reviewed to great critical acclaim. Reviews below; furrther reviews, video and full details here

'Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey' was premiered live on BBC Radio 3's Choral Evensong from St Pancras Church on 15 May 2013. Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey was performed by Michael Waldron and commissioned by the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. 

The BFI has released the sixth in their series of silent films by Ozu with new scores by Ed Hughes. The Gangster Films feature the Belvedere String Quartet performing extracts from Hughes's String Quartet and Quartets for Liz. Extracts from both works can be heard on Ed's website.  




Ed Hughes (born Bristol 1968) studied at Cambridge University with Robin Holloway and Alexander Goehr, and at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy. His work has been described as ‘polyphonic, clear and unique' (Richard Casey, pianist).

Commissions include City of London Festival (an opera to a libretto by Glyn Maxwell, The Birds, for The Opera Group), Brighton Festival, I Fagiolini, Glyndebourne, Tacet Ensemble and London Sinfonietta.

Performances include City of London Festival, Buxton Opera House, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Linbury Studio Theatre, Jerusalem Music Centre, Salamanca Festival, Sydney Festival and a number of BBC Radio 3 live broadcasts.

Auditorium (2007) for Glyndebourne and Photoworks, an orchestral and electronics score arising from a collaboration with visual artist Sophy Rickett, was performed live at Glyndebourne in November 2007, and continues to tour internationally.

Compositions for the New Music Players, the ensemble he founded and directs, include Chamber Concerto (2010) at Kings Place London (Out Hear series).

He has written several ensemble scores for iconic silent films of the early twentieth century including Ivens's Regen, Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Strike (Tartan Video 2007) and a series of scores for the BFI's Ozu Collection.

He has been shortlisted twice for the British Composer Awards (categories New Media 2005; and Sonic Art 2008).

His choral work, A Buried Flame (2010), was commissioned by the Bath Camerata for Wells Cathedral with the support of PRS Foundation. It was selected for performance at the 2012 ISCM World Music Days in Antwerp by Aquarius Chamber Choir.

A CD, Dark Formations, was released in 2012 in the USA on the Metier label.

When The Flame Dies, a chamber opera, was given its concert premiere at the 2012 Canterbury Festival by Sounds New, and was released on CD/DVD by Metier in Autumn 2013.

'Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey' for solo organ won a British Composer Award in 2014. 'Brighton: Symphony of a City' and 'Cuckmere: A Portrait' were commissioned by and premiered at the Brighton Festival in 2016 and 2018, performed by the Orchestra of Sound and Light and conducted by Ed Hughes. 

His music is published by UYMP.

Ed is Professor of Composition in Music at the University of Sussex.


Beware: this opera may take you hostage with its ability to get under your skin and its willingness to use any technological means to do so... Loosely based on Jean Cocteau's history of heartbreak, opium addiction and impaired creativity, Hughes's Poet protagonist is faced with a choice... as with any good opera, this one convincingly creates its own logic... Roger Morris's libretto gains much of its entrancing quality through the leeway of ambiguity plus provocative discussions about the moral implications of bringing people back to life. The 12-member ensemble reveals much effective compositional strategy with motivic repetition, nagglingly obsessive long-held notes in the winds and just plain alchemy...Purely electronic interludes are full of oblique commentary...

David Patrick Stearns, Gramophone, 1 May 2014 on When the Flame Dies (review of Metier CD/DVD release)

Hughes's music fizzes with invention, deriving maximum colour from his small band... There's also a striking electronic interlude, crackling into life through radio static to represent Cocteau's 'Zone', the liminal space between dream and reality, inspiration and banality.

Leo Chadburn, Tempo (Vol 68, Issue 268, April 2014), pp 105-10720 March 2014 on When the Flame Dies (review of three recent opera DVDs including Tempest (Ades) and Written on Skin (Benjamin))

Following on from Dark Formations, the wide-ranging conspectus of his ensemble and instrumental music (reviewed in January 2013), Metier continues its coverage of Ed Hughes with his chamber opera When the Flame Dies...The present piece has its basis in the life and work of Jean Cocteau - specifically the tragically young death of his muse (and probably lover) Raymond Radiguet, whose passing was both commemorated and transcended in the play Orphée - as well as more indirectly several plays and films...the composer's constant resourcefulness is evident from the two interludes that are inserted roughly a third and two-thirds of the way through the score: the first of these solely for electronics (whose presence is discreetly pervasive across the work as a whole), and the second a brief though limpid passage for ensemble that points up the sensitivity of Hughes's scoring. As with the music on that previous release, his idiom is broadly that of a post-war modernism which is personal enough to resonate with the listener... this release enables one to get to grips with one of the more arresting and distinctive chamber operas to have emerged in the UK over recent years.

Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review 1 March 2014

Ed Hughes has been a diverting presence since the BBC broadcast of his orchestral piece Crimson Flames marked him out as a name to watch some two decades ago. Since then he has assembled a sizeable as well as diverse body of work across the broad range of genres, one which reveals a notable awareness of the evolution of Western music not just over the last century but also over what might be termed the ‘humanist' tradition stretching back to the Renaissance.

Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review 1 January 2013 on Dark Formations CD [Metier msv28530]

"This is modern music for listeners 'with two ears' who enjoy contrapuntal music from Purcell to Bach to late Beethoven. Ed Hughes (b. 1968) is a contemporary British contrapuntalist of unique originality and instrumental flair...it is all given with consummate security and audibility, with rhythms "simultaneously complex and simple, distinctive, original and yet approachable" [Richard Casey]...I find the ensemble music irresistible."
Peter Grahame Woolf, Musical Pointers 17 July 2012 on Dark Formations CD

"In Quartet, the use of the materials was so clear and simple - and made so fascinating by the rhythmic and of course modal diversions...I was very struck by the economy of the work, and its fascinating complexity - a delightful piece that should be played often. In the darkness and poetics of Dark Formations...I was drawn to the timbres, the ambiguities of the bass clarinet and piano writing; I was very impressed by the approach - a powerful meditation."
Jonathan Harvey, composer, 1 August 2012 on Quartet and 'Dark Formations'

"Pure magic...A rip-roaring vital spectacle...a show of terrific vitality and verve"
Independent 1 July 2005 on The Birds

"truly emotional...an atmosphere of deeper resonances"
Robert Thicknesse, The Times 1 July 2005 on The Birds

"A fine example of the hidden gems the Brighton Festival can produce"
Brighton Evening Argus 12 May 2


For further information, including audio clips, trailers, scores and mp3 downloads, please visit Ed's website