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Wagstaff’s first major work was the musical play John Paul Jones (2001), based on the life of the Scots-born hero of the American Revolution. Premiered in Edinburgh in 2001, this was the first of the composer’s works to reach a significant audience. In it, Wagstaff’s eclectic compositional style (which frequently involves the integration of several very different styles within one work) began to emerge. This style was to reach greater maturity in later works such as the Symphony for Chamber Orchestra (2005).
Julian Wagstaff’s specific interest in German history, and in particular the history of the former German Democratic Republic, is reflected in Treptow for string orchestra (2005), his most-performed work. This atmospheric and haunting piece was inspired by the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in east Berlin, and represents the composer’s attempt to grapple with the power of this awesome monument in music. Treptow was the winner of the 2005 Emre Araci Prize.
Other work includes the Piano Quintet (2002), the Saxophone Sonata (2005), the Symphonic Overture from John Paul Jones (2004) and the studio opera The Turing Test, premiering in Edinburgh in August 2007.
Julian Wagstaff was born in Edinburgh in 1970. Originally a student of German and Politics, in which he graduated with distinction from the University of Reading in 1993, he worked as a translator and interpreter in the German language before turning to music as a profession in the late 1990s. His interest in language and political history continues to be reflected in much of his music and in his theatre writing.
Julian Wagstaff lives in his native city, where he is active as a composer, arranger and guitarist. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by some of Scotland’s top ensembles, including the Edinburgh Quartet and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
He studied composition with Nigel Osborne at Edinburgh University, and currently holds the post of Associate Tutor of composition in the Music department there.