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Personal profile


Philip Thomas is Professor in Performance, having joined the University of Huddersfield in 2005. He specialises in performing and writing about new and experimental music, including both notated and improvised music. He places much emphasis on each concert being a unique event, designing imaginative programmes that provoke and suggest connections.

He is particularly drawn to the experimental music of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff, and composers who broadly work within a post-Cageian aesthetic. In recent years he has been particularly associated with the music of Christian Wolff, performing and recording the solo piano music, and co-editing a book about his music. He has commissioned new works from a number of British composers whose ideas, language and aesthetic have been informed in some ways by the aforementioned American composers, such as Stephen Chase, Laurence Crane, Richard Emsley, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, John Lely, Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, James Saunders, Howard Skempton and Markus Trunk. Additionally, Philip’s work has focussed upon a number of Canadian composers, including Martin Arnold, Cassandra Miller and Linda Smith, and he has been associated with a number of composers from the Wandelweiser collective, most notably Jürg Frey. Solo recordings include releases on ‘another timbre’, ‘HatHut’, ‘Huddersfield Contemporary Records’, ‘Bruce’s Fingers’, ‘Edition Wandelweiser’ and ‘sub rosa’, featuring music by Laurence Crane, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Jürg Frey, Richard Glover, Bryn Harrison, Tim Parkinson, Michael Pisaro, James Saunders and Christian Wolff.

Alongside the music cited above, Philip pursues a passion for freely improvised music, after significant encounters with the music of AMM and Sheffield-based musicians Martin Archer, Mick Beck and John Jasnoch. He has worked with improvisers in a variety of contexts and recently devised a programme of composed music by musicians more normally known as improvisers as well as others who have been influenced by improvisation in some form. This led to a CD release, ‘Comprovisation’, which featured newly commissioned works by Mick Beck, Chris Burn and Simon H Fell.

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Music associated with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company
  • Recent Canadian experimental music
  • Music by British composers, including Laurence Crane, Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, Bryn Harrison, Michael Parsons, James Saunders
  • Music of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Morton Feldman
  • Recent experimental music from the USA and UK
  • Music associated with the ‘Wandelweiser’ collective


  • Music
  • Performance
  • Experimental Music
  • Improvisation
  • John Cage
  • Christian Wolff
  • Morton Feldman
  • indeterminacy
  • piano

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Projects 2015 2018

John Cage and the 'Concert for piano and orchestra'

Thomas, J. & Iddon, M.


Project: ResearchResearch Council

Research Output 2009 2018

  • 16 Digital or Visual Products
  • 3 Article
  • 2 Composition
  • 1 Chapter

John Cage - Two2

Thomas, P. & Knoop, M. 15 May 2018

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

John Cage

Jürg Frey and Magnus Granberg - Early To Late: Ensemble Grizzana

Thomas, P. 20 Mar 2018

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

Music Festival
Contemporary music

Abstruse Bagatelles: Music for solo piano by Christopher Fox

Thomas, P. 2017 Perspectives on the Music of Christopher Fox: Straight lines in broken times. Dodd, R. (ed.). Routledge, p. 128-148 21 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


CC: John Cage 'Concert for Piano and Orchestra'; Christian Wolff 'Resistance'

Thomas, P. 1 Nov 2017

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

John Cage
Christian Wolff

John Cage - 'Winter Music': Version for four pianos Mark Knoop, Catherine Laws, Philip Thomas & John Tilbury (pianos)

Thomas, J., Laws, C., Knoop, M. & Tilbury, J. 1 Sep 2017

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products

John Cage