Alan Rawsthorne


‘The road to music has many different paths. As far as British music is concerned, Rawsthorne stands in the direct line of Elgar, Walton, Constant Lambert and Tippett.’

– Francis Routh, Contemporary British Music

Alan Rawsthorne

Born on 2 May 1905 in Haslingden, Lancashire,

His parents tried to discourage him from music so he spent time studying to become a dentist and an architect before he committed to a career in music  in his early twenties.

 He studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music, in Poland and Berlin, before teaching at Dartington Hall from 1932 to 1934, where he wrote music for the School of Dance-Mime

Settling in London in 1935 his ‘Theme and Variations for Two Violins’ was performed at the the International Society for Contemporary Music’s London Festival in 1938. with his ‘Symphonic Studies’ being performed at the Warsaw Festival.

He served in the Army during the war after which he devoted the bulk of his time to composition producing works including two violin concertos; a Cello Concerto, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society. He also wrote music for film.

“What Rawsthorne has given to the world is among the best that his generation has produced.”

– Marius Flothuis

Three Popular Works

Alan Rawsthorne by Marius Flothuis

Marius Flothuis (1914 –2001) was a distinguished Dutch composer and musicologist. This essay on Rawsthorne is a section of a chapter in hisHedendaagse Engelse Componisten (Amsterdam: H. J. W. Becht, 1949), translated into English by Olive Renier and published as...

Who Is Alan Rawsthorne and Where Does He Fit In?

By Tony Pickard When Alan Rawsthorne’s name came up in conversation during a break in orchestral rehearsals, several older players immediately recognised it and went on to recall some of his music which they had heard during the 1950s and 1960s. Listening to our...

Celebration of the Life Alan Rawsthorne

This website was built as a celebration of the life and work of British Composer Alan Rawsthorne

‘Rawsthorne has a marvellous way of taking stock neo-romantic rhetoric, stripping away all that is fleshy and false about it, and presenting us with a discourse which is very subtly arresting.”

Paul Driver – The Financial Times

Awarded Honorary Doctor of Music - Belfast University

Awarded Honorary Doctor of Music - Liverpool University

Awarded Honorary Doctor of Music - Essex University

Awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE in 1961

22 Film Composer Credits 1935 - 1964