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Colin Brumby

Colin Brumby was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1933 and educated at the Glen Iris State School, Spring Road Central School, and Melbourne Boys’ High School.

While enrolled in the Bachelor of Music Course at the Conservatorium of Music, he began to develop an interest in composition. A suggestion from the conductor Verdon Williams, that he should write something for solo instrument and orchestra, resulted in his first work, Romance for Oboe and Strings, to receive a professional performance 1954 by Jiri Tancibudek with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

On graduating from the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music, Colin was appointed Music Master at Sunshine High School but, after teaching for three years, headed north to Queensland in 1959 where he was appointed a Junior Lecturer in Music at the (then) Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College.

In 1962 he left to take up a scholarship awarded by the Spanish Government to study advanced musical composition under Philipp Jarnach at an international music course in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It was there that he met with fellow-Australian, guitarist John Williams, who suggested that Colin should continue on to London at the conclusion of the course in Spain. Taking up this advice, he was appointed Head of Music at Greenford Grammar School and studied composition privately with Alexander Goehr, resulting in his major orchestral work, Fibonacci Variations which was premiered by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under Henry Krips.

Colin returned to Australia in 1964 to take up a lectureship in the Department of Music at the University of Queensland. In Brisbane, in the late 60s, at the invitation of the Queensland Division of the Arts Council of Australia, he composed several twenty-minute operettas for children, which were toured throughout Queensland and were enjoyed by more than 70,000 children annually.

In 1972, he was awarded a Doctorate in Music by the Melbourne University, prior to returning to Europe for twelve months further study in advanced music composition with Franco Evangelisti in Rome.

Because of his increasing dissatisfaction with the prevailing atonal style of composition, Colin returned to composing tonal music resulting in The Phoenix and the Turtle, a work written in response to a commission from Musica Viva for the 1974 Australian tour of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under Neville Marriner.

The immediate appeal of his extremely large musical output means that he is one of Australia’s most frequently broadcast and performed composers. His list of works, many of them commissions, includes symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, film scores, musicals, chamber music, songs and choral works…in fact, music in almost every genre.

Colin may also be contacted at cbrumby@bigpond.net.au

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