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John McCabe

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John McCabe


John McCabe, CBE (21 April 1939, Huyton, Liverpool – 13 February 2015, London) was a British composer and pianist.

McCabe was badly burned in an accident when he was a child and was home schooled for eight years. During this time, McCabe said that there was "a lot of music in the house", which inspired his future career. He explained "My mother was a very good amateur violinist and there were records and printed music everywhere. I thought that if all these guys – Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert – can do it, then so can I!" McCabe later suppressed his early symphonies, believing they were not good enough. He subsequently attended Liverpool Institute.

From 1965 to 1968 McCabe was pianist‐in‐residence at University College, Cardiff. He served as principal of the London College of Music from 1983 to 1990, where his efforts to enhance the college's profile resulted in its merging with Thames Valley University. He also held visiting professorships at the universities of Melbourne, Australia and Cincinnati, USA during the 1990s. Among his notable pupils is Canadian composer Gary Kulesha.

A prolific composer from an early age, McCabe had written thirteen symphonies by the time he was eleven. After studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern) and in Munich, with composers Thomas Pitfield, Harald Genzmer and others, he embarked upon a career as both a composer and a virtuoso pianist.

McCabe created works in many different forms, including symphonies, ballets, and solo works for the piano. He served as principal of the London College of Music from 1983 to 1990. Guy Rickards described him as "one of Britain's finest composers in the past half-century" and "a pianist of formidable gifts and wide-ranging sympathies."

McCabe was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1985 for his services to music. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool. In 2014, McCabe won the Classical Music Award at the 59th Ivor Novello Awards.

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