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Classical music written in collaboration

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In classical music, it is relatively rare for a work to be written in collaboration by multiple composers. This contrasts with popular music, where it is common for more than one person to contribute to the music for a song. Nevertheless, there are instances of collaborative classical music compositions.


The following list gives some details of classical works written by composers working collaboratively.

Opera and operetta



Concertante works

Vocal and choral

Chamber music


Piano solo

Piano four-hands

Electroacoustic music

  • Collaboration has been a constant feature of Electroacoustic music, due to the complexity of the technology. Since the beginning, all laboratories and electronic music studios have involved the presence of different individuals with diverse but intertwined competencies. In particular, the embedding of technological tools into the process of musical creation resulted in the emergence of a new agent with new expertise: the musical assistant, the technician, the tutor, the computer music designer, the music mediator (a profession that has been described and defined in different ways over the years) – who can work in the phase of writing, creating new instruments, recording and/or performance.[23] He or she explains the possibilities of the various instruments and applications, as well as the potential sound effects to the composer (when the latter did not have sufficient knowledge of the programme or a clear idea of what he or she could obtain from it). The musical assistant also explains the most recent results in musical research and translates artistic ideas into programming languages. Finally, he or she transforms those ideas into a score or a computer program and often performs the musical piece during the concerts.[24] Examples of collaboration are numerous: Pierre Boulez and Andrew Gerzso, Alvise Vidolin and Luigi Nono, Jonathan Harvey and Gilbert Nouno, among others. Composers remain the sole authors of this music works, whereas musical assistants are mentioned within the musical documentation (scores, press, program notes) as music assistants or computer music designers.

Other forms of musical collaboration

Another case of note was that of Eric Fenby, who worked as amanuensis for the blind Frederick Delius. Delius would dictate the notes and Fenby would transcribe them. While Fenby was himself a composer, these works on which he and Delius worked together were a collaboration in terms of the labour involved in writing them down, but not in terms of the musical ideas, which were entirely Delius's own.

Film scores over the years have tended to be collaborative projects in various ways, from the simple matter of orchestrators working with the sketches by the composer, to multi-composer collaborative efforts. Originally, with the studio system, composers often contributed parts of a score assigned by the head of the music department. Sometimes this was music not specific to that film for lower budget movies. In modern times, collaboration is seen in such groups as Remote Control Productions. True collaboration has also occurred, with such varied examples as Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman, who together composed the music for The Egyptian (1954); and Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, who wrote the music for two Batman films, Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).


There are various cases where a later composer has transformed an existing work or group of works into a new form, but this would generally be considered an arrangement by another hand, rather than a collaboration. Examples of this would include:


There are also instances where a work was left unfinished at the composer's death, and was completed by another composer. In such cases, the later composer generally strives to ensure the finished product is as close as possible to the original composer's intentions, as revealed by their notes, rough drafts, or other evidence. One of the best known examples is the completion by Franco Alfano of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. There may also be a case for describing Sir Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 3 as a work by both Elgar and Anthony Payne. However, these types of works cannot properly be called collaborations.


  1. ^ Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954: Vol. 1, Bizet, Georges, p. 734
  2. ^ Naxos
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954
  4. ^ a b Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954: Vol III, Goossens, Eugene (iii), p. 715
  5. ^ Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed. (1951), Vol. III, p. 715
  6. ^ Chester Novello
  7. ^ Music Web International
  8. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (January 1947). Roy Harris. 33. 1 (The Musical Quarterly ed.).
  9. ^ cocteau, satie & les six Archived 2010-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Letters from a life: The selected letters of Benjamin Britten 1913-1976
  11. ^ Britten-Pears Foundation
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Amazon
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Dibble, Jeremy (2013). Hamilton Harty: Musical Polymath. Woodbridge, Surrey: Boydell Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-84383-858-6.
  16. ^ mfiles. Retrieved 14 August 2014
  17. ^ Seraphim Trio Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Wonderland Project
  19. ^
  20. ^ Prokofiev, Sergei (1935). Piano Solos. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  21. ^ Matthew Quayle Archived July 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^
  23. ^ L. Zattra (2013) "Les origines du nom de RIM (Réalisateur en informatique musicale)" Archived 2016-12-20 at the Wayback Machine Actes des Journées d’Informatique Musicale (JIM 2013), Saint-Denis, 2013, pp. 113-120. (referenced 12/13/16).
  24. ^ L. Zattra, N. Donin (2016) "A questionnaire-based investigation of the skills and roles of Computer Music Designers" Musicae Scientiae, September 2016 20: 436–456, doi:10.1177/1029864915624136. (referenced 12/13/16).
This page was last edited on 9 November 2020, at 19:54
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