Born Edinburgh, lives and works in Edinburgh. First major composition: John Paul Jones (stage musical) premiered Edinburgh in 2001, recorded 2002, revived with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2010. Studied composition with Nigel Osborne at Edinburgh University leading to PhD in 2008. First major concert work: Piano Quintet, premiered 2003, recorded 2004 by the Edinburgh Quartet with Alina Kolonitskaya. Released on Circular Records, 2007. Other works include: Symphonic Overture from John Paul Jones (2004), Treptow (for string orchestra/string quartet, 2005), Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (2005), Symphony for Chamber Orchestra (2005) and The Turing Test (chamber opera, 2007 – sell-out run on Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Commission from Royal Society of Chemistry in 2011 (trio: A Persistent Illusion) premiered by Hebrides Ensemble. Appointed Composer in Residence at School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh in 2013. Chamber opera Breathe Freely produced in association with Scottish Opera, conducted by Derek Clark, October 2013, recorded 2014 and released on Linn Records in 2015. Julian’s music is published by Europa Edition and appears on the Linn Records and Circular Records labels. He writes and performs rock music under the name Jules Reed. More info at www.julianwagstaff.com.
Julian Wagstaff lives in his native Edinburgh, where he is active as a composer, arranger and guitarist. He worked as a translator, programmer and television researcher before turning to music as a profession in the late 1990s. His interest in language, political history and the sciences continues to be reflected in much of his music and in his theatre libretti.
He came to public attention with the musical John Paul Jones (2001), based on the life of the Scots-born sailor and hero of the American Revolution. Premiered in Edinburgh in 2001, this was the first of the composer’s works to reach a significant audience. The musical was revived as a concert version in 2010 in association with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The composer began to study musical composition at the University of Edinburgh with Professor Nigel Osborne in 2001, earning a PhD in 2008.
Julian’s specific interest in German history is reflected in Treptow for string orchestra (2005), his most-performed work. This piece, which won the 2005 Emre Araci Prize, was inspired by the Soviet War Memorial in Treptow Park in east Berlin. In August 2007, Julian Wagstaff presented his hour-long chamber opera The Turing Test on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to sell-out audiences. The opera was cited by the novelist Alexander McCall Smith as his cultural highlight of the year in the Daily Telegraph’s Review of 2007. Julian’s Piano Quintet was released on Circular Records in November of the same year, on an album entitled Frontiers and Bridges recorded by the Edinburgh Quartet and produced by Calum Malcolm.
Julian Wagstaff was appointed Composer in Residence at King’s Buildings, University of Edinburgh, in 2011. In the same year he was commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry to write a new piano trio to celebrate International Year of Chemistry. The work, entitled A Persistent Illusion, was premiered by Hebrides Ensemble in December 2011.
In 2013, the composer was commissioned by the University of Edinburgh to write a new chamber opera to celebrate the Tercentenary of its School of Chemistry. The resulting work, entitled Breathe Freely, was premiered in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms in a co-production with Scottish Opera conducted by Derek Clark. The project attracted widespread media coverage. A studio recording of the opera was made in 2014 at Scottish Opera’s production studios and released on the Linn Records label at an event at Burlington House, London in October 2015.
Julian enjoys close connections to many of Scotland’s leading musicians, and his compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by the country’s top ensembles, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Sottish National Orchestra, the Edinburgh Quartet, Consort of Voices and Hebrides Ensemble.
Julian Wagstaff’s music appears on the Circular Records and Linn Records labels and is published by Europa Edition. It is widely performed in the UK, Europe and beyond. More information and music is available from the composer’s website at www.julianwagstaff.com.
Julian Wagstaff writes, records and performs rock music under the alias Jules Reed.
List of Works
1. John Paul Jones – a musical play in two acts (2001)
2. Fuer Anothai – for solo piano (2001)
3. Piano Quintet – for piano and string quartet (2002)
4. Symphonic Overture from John Paul Jones (2004)
5. What Goes Around – a musical play in one act, libretto by Mike Gibb (2004)
6. Orchestral Medley from John Paul Jones (2004)
7. Treptow – version for string quartet (2005)
8. Treptow – version for string orchestra (2005)
9. Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (2005)
10. Symphony for Chamber Orchestra (2005)
11. Hebridean Sunset Rag – for violin and piano (2006)
12. The Turing Test – a chamber opera in one act (2007)
13. Two songs from People – musical play with libretto by David Levin (2009)
14. John Paul Jones – Concert Version (of revised stage musical) (2010)
15. In Extremis – for string trio (2011)
16. Hebridean Sunset Rag – version for flute and guitar (2011)
17. A Persistent Illusion – for clarinet, cello and piano (2011)
18. Breathe Freely – a chamber opera in two short acts (2013)
19. Bits and Pieces of Weather – song for mezzo-soprano and piano, lyrics by Margaret Horton (2013)
20. Song to Me – the Music and Songs of Julian Wagstaff (2015) [one-hour retrospective show for two voices and three musicians, featuring chamber and theatre highlights from the composer’s catalogue].