Peter Billam, Composer

England, 1948 - 1974

Born in Hammersmith, London, 18 August 1948. Studied piano.
Attended Kingston Grammar School, acquiring 9 O-levels, 3 A-levels, and 2 S-levels, and taking up the guitar.
Moved to South Kensington in 1966, to study Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London University.
Changing to folk guitar, played professionally around the folk clubs of London.
Graduated in 1969 with a 1st class Honours BSc and ARCS, and took up a PhD project in computational magnetohydrodynamics at Imperial College.
Quit the PhD project after one year, to play the electric guitar professionally. Between 1970 and 1973, tours of England and Holland with Continuum, 2 LP's on RCA Records, numerous recording sessions.
Involved in the avant-guarde music scene with Malcolm Fox, Jonathan Lloyd, Simon Bainbridge, Howard Davidson, Oliver Knussen, etc, composing, and playing several premieres.
Also involved in the free-jazz scene, playing with several ensembles (including Tony Gartell), and recording an LP with Bob Downes and Harry Miller.

Biel-Bienne, Switzerland, 1974 - 1980

In 1974, left the London music scene and went to Switzerland to work as an electronic engineer for Soundcraft (later Filtek) in Biel.
Changed back to the classical guitar, studying with Michel Rutscho at the Conservatorium of Bienne, and composition with Daniel Andres. Beginning of serious compositional activity.
In a duo with Franz Anderegg, numerous concerts around Switzerland (mainly Dowland, Schubert, Carissimi, etc); also accompanying Gwynneth Kennedy in concerts in Spain. Arrangements of Italian songs and Schubert songs for guitar accompaniment.
Performances of Sadhana and Melody with Accompaniment at concerts (review) of the Société Internationale de Musique Contemporaine in Geneva. Composition of Divisions on an Italian Ground for flute and guitar. Performance of Concert Study by Urs-Peter Schneider and Erica Radermacher.
In 1979, quit electronic engineering to study guitar full time, either in Paris (with La Goya) or in London (with Patrick Bashford); however, stricken with tendinitis because of the increased practice load, forced to give up the guitar.

La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland, 1980 - 1981

Worked as Musical Director of the Théâtre Populaire Romand, composing all the music for their productions, rehearsing and training the actors, and even acting.

Geneva, Switzerland, 1981 - 1983

Worked as record producer, recording LP's by William Naboré (pno), Steve Kanoff (clr), Catherine Collard (pno), Kim Walker (bsn), and also co-arranged, recorded, and re-mixed the first LP by Switzerland's premier new-wave group Film de Guerre.
Worked as computer programmer for the Brown-Boveri corporation, and for Compusoft S.A.
Studied voice with Heidi Raymond, flute with Verena Bosshard. Gave composition and theory lessons.

Hobart, Tasmania, 1983 - 1985

Lectured in composition and electronic music at the Conservatorium of Hobart.

Nubeena, Tasmania, 1985 - 1988

Part-time and later full-time teaching at Tasman District High School. Coached the local teenage rock'n roll group. Private teaching of guitar, piano, tin whistle. Formed a local recorder group, and The Lottah Singers choir. Wrote a BBC-microcomputer-based Tin Whistle tutor. Much composition, numerous arrangements of folk tunes, etc.

Hobart, Tasmania, 1988 - 1993

Moved to Hobart to work as Computer Systems Programmer for the State Library.
For four years was Musical Director of the Hobart Society of Recorder Players, conducting their fortnightly meetings and public appearances. Also conducted three joint recorder weekends between the HSRP and the Lanceston Recorder Society.
Sang bass for two years with Opus Eight, later the Jane Franklin Consort. Several full-length concerts, including as soloist for TUMS, and ABC radio broadcasts. Composed Decision, for eight-voice choir. Began singing lessons with Lyall Beven.
Composition of A Suite of Curves for trombone (or horn) and piano; premiered in April 1990 by Andrew Sweeney and Stephanie Abercrombie.
For one year was on the Committee of the Tasmanian Chapter of the Australian National Choral Association. Received coaching in choral conducting from John Nickson.
Left the Library to work as a Systems Administrator for the Tasmanian Treasury and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Much private study of the recorder, with several public appearances including as soloist with the Derwent Symphony Orchestra (in Corelli's Christmas Concerto) and with TUMS (in Purcell's Come, Ye Sons of Art).
Composition of Two Recorder Duets, and Handwriting for ten brass instruments and a transcription of it for piano. Composition of Piano Study, and of Three Songs for voice and piano.

Melbourne, 1993 - 1994

Moved to Melbourne to work as Senior Consultant with the Fulcrum Consulting Group. Sang regularly with Jennifer Marten-Smith. Composition of Trombone Quintet.

Hobart, Tasmania, 1994 -

Guest tutor at Recorder '95 in Melbourne, and at Recorder Week '96 in Wellington, NZ. Founded P J B Computing; developed the muscript music-typesetting software. Interview with John Crawford on ABC-FM.   Composition of Solo Suite, Trombone Quintet for two pianos. Worked for two and a half years as Computer Systems Administrator for the CSIRO Division of Marine Research.

Composition of the Three Songs, the Four Dances, the Poet in the Clouds, and Tres Casidas del Divan del Tamarit. Founded pjb.com.au.
During 1999 underwent radiotherapy for an occult primary, probably in the nasopharynx.

In 2000 composition of Three Suites 1) for solo line, 2) for piano, 3) for piano and solo line, and Wechsel der Zeiten for choir;
In 2001 composition of Die Gestundete Zeit and the Three Duets;
In 2003 composition of Three Preludes for piano and the Second Solo Suite.

In 2006-8 composition of the Guitar Duet, the choral piece We Who Mourn and the Trio With Guitar.

In 2010-16 composition of more major works: the Twelve Canons, the Flute Trio, the Twenty Studies for piano, the Music for Strings, the Two Encores for Strings and the Album for Choir.

Also published many arrangements, including Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue for four hands, his Cello Suites for flute or recorder, an authoritative edition of Telemann's Twelve Flute Fantasias for recorder, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht arranged for piano, and many many others.

Some reviews for Music Forum magazine, and some contributions to theory such as Scriabin's Scales, a compilation of Leitmotifs of Wagner's Ring and a history of music in europe After the War, and others. See: github and youtube.


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