Graham Waterhouse

Graham Waterhouse (born 2 November 1962) is an English composer and cellist. For his own instrument, he composed a cello concerto and Three Pieces for Solo Cello. He has written string quartets and compositions which juxtapose a quartet with a solo instrument, including Piccolo Quintet, Bassoon Quintet and Rhapsodie Macabre. He has set poetry for speaking voice and cello, such as Der Handschuh, and has composed song cycles. His compositions reflect the individual capacity and character of players and instruments, from piccolo to contrabassoon.

Graham Waterhouse
Portrait, 2011
Born (1962-11-02) 2 November 1962
London, England
ResidenceMunich, Germany
Years active1978 (1978)–present
Notable work
Parent(s)William Waterhouse

Since 1998, Waterhouse has organized a concert series at the Gasteig in Munich, often playing with members of the Munich Philharmonic. His works have been performed internationally and were recorded. He has been awarded prizes for several of his compositions, and has been composer in residence at institutions in several European countries.


Graham Waterhouse was born in London, the son of the noted bassoonist and musicologist William Waterhouse. Graham attended Highgate School and studied music at the University of Cambridge (composition with Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway), and in Germany at the Folkwang Hochschule (cello with Young-Chang Cho) and Hochschule für Musik Köln (cello, with Maria Kliegel, conducting and piano). He has lived in Munich since 1992.

He has received commissions by the International Double Reed Society (IDRS), the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Munich Biennale, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Estado de Mexico, the Kaske Stiftung and the Park Lane Group (London), among others. His compositions have earned prizes at competitions of Münchener Tonkünstlerverband (1996) and of Via Nova in Weimar (2000).[1] His string quartet Chinese Whispers was awarded the "BCMS Composition Prize" of the Birmingham Chamber Music Society in 2011.

He has performed as the soloist of his Cello Concerto in Mexico City (1995), Nizhny Novgorod, Weimar, Baden-Baden, St. Martin, Idstein (version for chamber orchestra, 2005), Cambridge (2008), and on 8 July 2016 once more in Nizhny Nowgorod, with the Academic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexander Skulsky.

In 2001, Waterhouse was the composer in residence of Solisten der Kammerphilharmonie Berlin, in 2006 artiste en residence in Albertville, France, and in 2008 Musician By-Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

He has worked with Ensemble Modern and participated in the concert tour 2001 of the Ensemble Modern Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.[2] He has also performed with the ensembles musikFabrik and Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, among others.

As a composer and a performer, he is mostly dedicated to chamber music, and has co-founded several chamber ensembles, including the Vuillaume-Cello-Ensemble playing instruments built by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. He established in 1998 a regular chamber music concert series at Gasteig Munich, programming contemporary works alongside classical repertory.[3] Players for his chamber music concerts have included members of the Munich Philharmonic, such as bassoonist Lyndon Watts. Waterhouse has collaborated with the composers Jens Josef (flute) and Rudi Spring (piano). They appeared together in a trio concert at the Gasteig, performing Martinů's trio, the premiere of the flute version of Gestural Variations, and a Christmas carol by each composer, In dulci jubilo set by Waterhouse.[4] The song Im Gebirg (The Mountain) on a poem of Hans Krieger for mezzo-soprano, alto flute, cello and piano, was premiered at the Gasteig in 2010 by Martina Koppelstetter, Jens Josef, the composer and Christopher White.[5] In a concert The Proud Bassoon in Wigmore Hall, celebrating his father on 16 April 2011, he performed as a cellist, and two works he had written in memory of his father, Epitaphium and Bright Angel, received their premiere in the UK.[6][7] In a concert concluding the Gasteig's Liszt Festival to honour the 200th birthday of Franz Liszt, his chamber music scored for piano solo up to piano and string quartet appeared in the context of pieces in similar settings by Liszt.[8] In 2011, he composed a Christmas cantata on a text by Krieger.[9] In 2013 his piano trio Bells of Beyond was premiered at the Gasteig with Yury Revich and Valentina Babor.[10] Incantations, a Concerto da camera for piano and ensemble, was premiered and recorded in Birmingham on 26 March 2015 at the CBSO Centre with Huw Watkins, piano, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Richard Baker.

The compositions reflect the individual capacity and character of players and instruments from piccolo to contrabassoon, even unusual ones such as the heckelphone or didgeridoo. He scored Chieftain's Salute for Great Highland Bagpipe and string orchestra, Hale Bopp, inspired by comet Hale–Bopp, for string orchestra with boy soprano. He also wrote several compositions for cello and speaking voice, based on literature as diverse as limerick (Vezza), ballad (Der Handschuh) and drama (Das Hexen-Einmaleins), which he plays and recites himself. He has lectured on contemporary music at the yearly Komponisten-Colloquium of the University of Oldenburg, initiated by Violeta Dinescu.[11] Several of his pieces have been composed for the competition Jugend musiziert and performed at the prize winners' concerts.

The first publisher of his works was the Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag, beginning with Aztec Ceremonies and Three Pieces for Solo Cello in 1996. His music appeared also with Zimmermann and Robert Lienau in Frankfurt, Heinrichshofen in Wilhelmshaven. His set of pedagogical pieces for cello, Thomas Tunes, was published in 2017 by Breitkopf & Haertel.[12]

His music has been recorded, notably on Portrait (2001) with works for piano, clarinet and cello,[13] and Portrait 2 (2004) with music for string orchestra, played by the English Chamber Orchestra, and for wind ensemble, played by Endymion.[14][15]


Waterhouse's 50th birthday was celebrated with concerts dedicated to his works in London, Munich and Frankfurt, featuring performances of chamber music by members of the Munich Philharmonic. Peter Grahame Woolf wrote about the Graham Waterhouse Portrait Concert at Highgate School on 9 October 2012, focussing on the string quartet Prophetiae Sibyllarum and Rhapsodie Macabre. A review in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of the concert at the Gasteig on 4 November 2012 was titled "Hochexpressiv" (Highly expressive) and covered additionally Praeludium, Bassoon Quintet and Piccolo Quintet. Reinhard Palmer wrote in the magazine Neue Musikzeitung about the concert in Munich, under the title "Beliebter Außenseiter" (Popular outsider), comparing the quintets to concertos, noting the influence of Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutoslawski and the qualities of musical story-telling.[16] The broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk aired an interview on his birthday.[17]


  • Variations on a Theme by Pachelbel for organ (1981)
  • Scherzino for piano, published 2006 in Piano Album (1984)[18]
  • Hungarian Polyphony for string quartet (1986)
  • Piccolo Quintet (1989)
  • Cello Concerto (1990)
  • Mouvements d'Harmonie for wind ensemble (1991), dedicated to William Waterhouse
  • Nonet for wind quintet, string trio and double bass (1991)
  • Praeludium for piano (1992)
  • Vezza, Limerick for cello and speaking voice (1993), Whether the weather be hot – as a German would pronounce it
  • Four Epigraphs after Escher for heckelphone, viola and piano – after drawings by M. C. Escher (1993)
  • Celtic Voices and Hale Bopp for string orchestra with obbligato treble voice (1993)
  • Aztec Ceremonies for contrabassoon and piano, premiered IDRS 1995, Rotterdam
  • Three Pieces for Solo Cello (1996), dedicated to Siegfried Palm
  • Ode to an Australian Forebear for flute, marimba, cello and didgeridoo (1997)
  • Gestural Variations for oboe, bassoon and piano (1997), prize-winner at Via Nova in Weimar (2000)
  • Kreuzverhör for flute, oboe and string trio, premiered at the Munich Biennale 1998
  • Diplo-Diversions for bassoon and piano, premiered at the IDRS Congress 1998[19]
  • Hexenreigen for bassoon quartet (1998)
  • Hymnus for wind ensemble (1998)
  • Bei Nacht (At Night) for piano trio (1999), inspired by a painting of Kandinsky, Nacht
  • Chieftain's Salute for Great Highland Bagpipe and string orchestra (2001)
  • Sinfonietta for string orchestra (2002)
  • Threnody for cello solo (2002), published as Music against Terrorism and Violence[20]
  • Bassoon Quintet, premiered in Munich 2003, revised 2011
  • Sicilian Air for flute and piano (2003)
  • Sechs späteste Lieder after Hölderlin for mezzo-soprano and cello (2003)
  • Der Handschuh (The Glove), the ballad by Friedrich Schiller, for cello and speaking voice (2005)
  • Das Hexen-Einmaleins (The Witches' One-Times-One), after Goethe (Faust Part One, Witch's Kitchen), for cello and speaking voice (2007)[21]
  • Belsatzar after Heine for speaking voice and cello (Faust Part One, Witch's Kitchen) (2007)
  • Bright Angel for three bassoons and contrabassoon, premiered IDRS 2008, Provo, Utah, referring to the Bright Angel Trail
  • Phoenix Arising / Tribute to William Waterhouse, for bassoon and piano, premiered in London 2009
  • Epitaphium In Memoriam W.R.W. for string trio, premiered in Munich 2009
  • Canto Notturno for piano trio, premiered in Munich 2009
  • Chinese Whispers for string quartet, premiered in Preston 2010
  • Im Gebirg on a poem of Hans Krieger for alto, alto flute, cello and piano, premiered in Munich 2010
  • Der Werwolf and The Banshee on a poem of Christian Morgenstern for speaking voice and cello (2010)
  • Zeichenstaub for string trio, premiered in Arnstadt 2010
  • Maśniaki, Recollections from the Tatra Mountains for Solo Violin, premiered in Munich 2011
  • Concerto da camera for cello and ensemble, premiered in Munich 2011
  • Rhapsodie Macabre for piano and string quartet, premiered in Munich 2011
  • Der Anfang einer neuen Zeit (The Beginning of a New Time), Christmas cantata on a text by Hans Krieger, premiered in Essen 2011
  • Prophetiae Sibyllarum for string quartet, premiered in Munich 2012
  • In blauen Linien, flute quartet (2012), premiered in Munich in 2012
  • Sonata ebraica for viola and piano (2012–2013), premiered in Munich 2013
  • in nomine for cello solo, an In Nomine, premiered in Idstein 2013
  • Bells of Beyond, piano trio, premiered in Munich 2013
  • Sonata Cubista, violin sonata, premiered in Munich 2013
  • Alcatraz, string quartet, premiered in Munich 2014
  • String Sextet, Op. 1, premiered in Munich 2014
  • Carpe diem, cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra, premiered in Munich 2014
  • Skylla and Charybdis, piano quartet, premiered in Munich 2014
  • Incantations, Concerto da camera for piano and ensemble, premiered in Birmingham 2015
  • Music of Sighs, song cycle after James Joyce for mezzo-soprano and ensemble, premiered in Munich 2016
  • Crystallogenesis for string quartet, premiered in Berg 2016


Single works

  • 2000 Bassoon With a View, Innova Recordings (Aztec Ceremonies)
  • 2001 Benchmarks Vol. 6 – Folkestone and Hythe, Kent (Variations on a Theme by Pachelbel)
  • 2007 concerto piccolo, Archiv Music (Piccolo Quintet)


  1. "Uraufführungen" (PDF) (in German). Via Nova. 11 November 2008. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  2. "Concert Tour Book" (PDF) (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  3. "Komponisten-Matinee" (in German). Gasteig. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  4. "Konzertante Musik für Flöte – Violoncello – Klavier, gespielt von drei Komponisten" (in German). Gasteig. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  5. "Komponisten-Matinee: Graham Waterhouse" (in German). Gasteig. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  6. Breckenfield, Nick (18 April 2010). "William Waterhouse Memorial Concert at Wigmore Hall". Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  7. "William Waterhouse Celebration / The Proud Bassoon" (PDF). Park Lane Group. 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  8. "Hommage à Liszt". Gasteig. 2011. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  9. "Graham Waterhouse" (in German). Münchener Biennale. 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  10. "Graham Waterhouse – "Trio und Solo"" (in German). Gasteig. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  11. "Komponisten-Colloquien" (in German). University of Oldenburg. 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  12. "Graham Waterhouse (*1962) / Thomas Tunes". Breitkopf & Haertel. 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  13. Culot, Hubert (2004). "Graham Waterhouse". Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  14. Culot, Hubert (2004). "Graham Waterhouse / Portrait". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  15. March, Ivan (2004). "Portrait 2". Gramophone. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  16. Palmer, Reinhard (14 November 2012). "Beliebter Außenseiter: der Cellist und Komponist Graham Waterhouse feierte seinen 50. Geburtstag" (in German). Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  17. hr2 – Das aktuelle Kulturgespräch / Zu Gast: Graham Waterhouse, Komponist (in German). Hessischer Rundfunk. 2 November 2012.
  18. "Piano Album: Acht Klavierstücke". Schott. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  19. Cox, Jefferey (2000). "Twentieth Century Bassoon Concertos" (PDF). The Double Reed. International Double Reed Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009. Since then, Jefferey has tried to promote interest in the bassoon and in that cause commissioned a suite of pieces for bassoon and piano, collectively entitled "Diplo-Diversions", from Graham Waterhouse. This was published in 1997 by Hofmeister Verlag and premiered by Bill and Graham Waterhouse at the IDRS Congress in Tempe, Arizona, in summer 1998.
  20. "Waterhouse, G.: Threnody". Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  21. "Graham Waterhouse, Handschuh & Hexen-Einmaleins". (in German). Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  22. "Portrait Graham Waterhouse / Graham Waterhouse, Markus Schön, Michael Wendeberg, Agnès Marc". Retrieved 11 September 2012.

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