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Julian Wagstaff

CountryUnited Kingdom
OccupationArranger, Composer, Lyricist, Teacher
CategoriesClassical, Contemporary, Musical, Rock

Originally a student of German and Politics, in which he graduated with distinction from the University of Reading in 1993, Julian Wagstaff worked as a translator and interpreter in the German language before turning to music as a profession in the late 1990s. His interest in language and political history continues to be reflected in much of his music and in his theatre writing.

His first major work was 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. In it, Julian's eclectic compositional style (which frequently involves the integration of several very different styles within one work) began to emerge. This style was to reach greater maturity in later works such as the Symphony for Chamber Orchestra (2005). John Paul Jones was revived professionally as a concert version in 2010, in association with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

On the basis of the score for John Paul Jones, the composer was accepted to study composition at the University of Edinburgh with Professor Nigel Osborne. He was awarded a Masters degree in music from that institution in 2002, and a PhD in musical composition in 2008, the principal component of which was a chamber opera entitled The Turing Test, written for the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Julian Wagstaff's specific interest in German history, and in particular the history of the former German Democratic Republic, is reflected in Treptow for string orchestra (2005), his most-performed work. This atmospheric and haunting piece was inspired by the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in east Berlin, and represents the composer's attempt to grapple with the power of this awesome monument in music. Treptow was the winner of the 2005 Emre Araci Prize.

Julian lives in his native city, where he is active as a composer, arranger, guitarist and teacher. The composer enjoys close connections with some of Scotland's leading musicians, and his compositions and arrangements have been performed by Scotland's top ensembles, including the Edinburgh Quartet, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He is published by Europa Edition.

Julian is co-author of the Guitarmaster music transcription software application and, outwith the world of music, the translator of a number of published books and the principal developer and designer of the NISAT database of Small Arms Transfers for the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), the largest public database on the arms trade in the world

Julian Wagstaff