Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Oliver Thurley

Teaching Fellow

0113 343 2545

School of Music, 1.14

Office hours: Please see office door for times

PhD, MMus, BA(Hons)

Composer of electronic and instrumental music, and teaching fellow in Music Technology.


I compose instrumental music, focusing on aspects of quietness and fragility to invoke a sense of disquiet.

Research Interests

As a composer, my work focuses on aspects of quietness, fragility, temporal disorientation, timbral instability and computational/algorithmic procedure. I write quiet instrumental music.

Other interests include the creative, cultural and technical aspects of:

  • analog, digital, and modular synthesis;
  • ambient and drone music;
  • creative-coding practices;
  • contemporary instrumental technique;
  • Science Fiction


Programme Leader for the Graduate Diploma


Journal articles

  • Oliver Thurley (2018) “Apartment House: Wolff, Cage, ‘Performing Indeterminacy’, University of Leeds, 1 July 2017”, Tempo. 72.283: 90-92.
    DOI: 10.1017/S0040298217001012, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/125792/

    At the beginning of July, the University of Leeds played host to the ‘Performing Indeterminacy’ conference: a series of talks, panels and concerts that are part of a research project on John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957–58), led by Philip Thomas and Martin Iddon. In the middle of all this, Apartment House presented what many consider the pinnacle of Cage's indeterminate work alongside a new commission from Christian Wolff, the last surviving member of the New York School composers. Resistance (2016–17), Wolff's new work ‘for 10 or more players and a pianist’, was written in response to Cage's Concert, sharing elements of its instrumentation and schema. In Leeds’ Clothworkers Hall, Apartment House – led by Anton Lukoszevieze – premiered the new piece alongside its progenitor, composed some 59 years apart. At the heart of both pieces in this concert is Philip Thomas at the piano. The conscientiousness and exactitude that Thomas brings to the music of both Cage and Wolff (having worked closely with the latter over the past 15 years) make him, perhaps, the ideal soloist for this programme. Quite simply, it is a line-up that could not have come about through chance procedure.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0040298217000614, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/121174/

  • Thurley O (2015) “Disappearing Sounds: Fragility in the music of Jakob Ullmann”, Tempo. 69.274: 5-21.
    DOI: 10.1017/S0040298215000339, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/112177/

    The music of Jakob Ullmann (b. 1958) is notable for its protracted structural stasis and delicacy; its fusion of rigorously engineered notational systems, abstract graphical elements and Byzantine iconography; and – above all – its unrelenting quietness. This article offers a rare view into Ullmann's compositional practices, with a specific focus upon the role of fragility in the work. Exploring this concept of fragility as a musical feature, this article considers a number of Ullmann's works from the perspectives of the compositions and their scores, the performance and the agency of performers and, finally, how audiences may listen to this fragility. The article concludes with a consideration of the importance of fragility to Ullmann's oeuvre, and of how it might help us to further understand his music.


  • Oliver Thurley (2016) falling as rain and then rising. Score

    clarinet, violin and cello, ca. 13'; Commissioned by Tzlil Meudcan festival; Premiere: Meitar ensemble, Tzlil Meudcan, Tel Aviv, Israel, 14 July 2016

  • Oliver Thurley (2015) if some thing black. Score

    bass clarinet, ca. 15'; commissioned by Heather Roche; Premiere: London, 9 February 2016

  • Oliver Thurley (2015) hymns to sing at the apocalypse. Score

    solo contrabass, b.fl., b.cl., vla. and vcn; ca. 11'; Commissioned by iN festival; Premiere: ensemble iiiiiiiii, iN festival, Seoul, South Korea, 12 October 2015

  • Oliver Thurley (2014) with the very same twist to their faces. Score

    baritone saxophone, accordion, ca. 11'; Premiere: Janez Uršej & Stefanie Mirwald, impuls festival, Graz, Austria, 21 February 2015

  • Oliver Thurley (2014) yet another example of the porousness of certain borders. Score

    contrabass, ca. 11'; Co-commissioned by Gaudeamus Muziekweek, impuls festival and Ulysses network; Premiere: Dario Calderone, impuls festival, Graz, Austria, 22 February 2015

  • Oliver Thurley (2014) whose veil remains inscrutable. Score

    for Ensemble Nikel: tenor sax., electric guitar, percussion, piano, ca. 11'; comissioned by impuls festival and Ensemble Nikel; Premiere: Ensemble Nikel at impuls festival, Graz, Austria, 22 February 2015



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