Gordon Crosse was born in 1937 in Bury, Lancashire.   In 1961 he gained a first class honours degree at Oxford, after which he did two years' research on early fifteenth-century music including a three-month Italian Government Scholarship in Rome.   Since 1964 he has held various appointments at the Universities of Birmingham and Essex, and was for two years Composer-in-Residence at King's College, Cambridge.   In 1976 he won the Cobbett Medal.   In 1977 he spent a year teaching in Santa Barbara, California.   In the early 80s he returned to his home in Suffolk to devote all his time to composition.  

Much of Crosse's work reflects his interest in the dramatic and literary arts.   This is evident not only in his four operas (The Story of Vasco, Purgatory), but also in many of the concert works.   Examples are Memories of Morning: Night, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, based on Jean Rhys's novel Wide Sargasso Sea (recorded  by NMC); World Within, for actress, soprano and ten players with a text taken from the writings of Emily Brontë, and Play Ground for orchestra - later choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, as was the 1981 Wild Boy.   In 1984 he was approached by the choreographer David Bintley, who asked him to extend Britten's eight-minute work Young Apollo into a piece of suitable length for a ballet for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. 


Notable concert works, including Ceremony, two Violin Concertos, two Symphonies, a Cello Concerto and Dreamsongs have been written to commission for international orchestras and festivals including the BBC Proms.   Recent music (post 2007) includes a second String Quartet, a Trio for oboe, violin and cello, a Viola Concerto and a third elegy for small orchestra, "AD PATREM".



How did you get into composing?  
Slowly, and with difficulty between 12 and 18. My piano teacher failed to teach me piano but encouraged both early music and composing.   A school friend said why don't you compose something?   I wrote the first of many incompetent violin sonatas and somgs.

Like so many other composers, you live in Suffolk. Is there something about the air that gets the creative juices flowing?  
It was (in 1968) cheap and quiet. Ben B living down the road helped too.  And Aldeburgh Festival was source of earliest comissions and performances.

Your piece has had a few different titles so far, but all of them have included Orkney, my favourite place in the world. What's the Orkney significance for you? And which comes first for you, the name or the notes?  
I find it helpful to have a name/subject first but not essential. My first visit to Orkney was not till after I started the piece - but it was a momentous visit and not at all as I had imagined. To some extent that experience is in the piece.

If you had no constraints of time and money, what would you compose next, and where would you go to write it? 
But I have many constraints on time - Not least how little is left! I'd like to visit a luxurious hotel and spend all my time writing chamber music.

If you could meet any composer from any point in history, who would it be, where would you take them, and what would you ask them?!?  
He would be someone like Dvorak - whom I would quiz about happiness, and take to the Lake District.