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Edwin Carr


Born: 1926 Died: 2003


Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in August 1926, Edwin James Nairn Carr studied music at Otago and Auckland Universities from 1944 to 1947, then travelled to London on a New Zealand Government Bursary to study composition with Benjamin Frankel at the Guildhall School of Music. He studied under Frankel until 1953, during which period his Mardi Gras Overture won first prize at the Auckland Festival (adjudicated by Eugene Goossens), and his Three Dances and Epilogue for two pianos won him the Overseas League Medal. A British Council Scholarship awarded in 1954 allowed Carr to study with Petrassi at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and another scholarship awarded in the same year enabled him to attend the Accademia di Chigiana at Siena.

In 1955 he was appointed Musical Director of Il Nuovo Balletto d'Italia for their extensive tour of Italy and composed two ballets for this company, Electra and Caccati dal Paradiso. Another British Council Scholarship, awarded in 1957, enabled Carr to study with Carl Orff at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich for a brief period.

Carr returned to New Zealand in 1958, where he completed commissions for the NZ Broadcasting Orchestra, the NZ Chamber Music Federation and the Auckland Association of Organists. He lectured at Victoria University in Wellington in 1959, and in 1960 travelled to Sydney where he worked for the ABC. He did not remain in Australia long, however, and later that year returned to England to teach at the Suffolk Rural Music School and at Civic College, Ipswich. He continued his studies with Benjamin Frankel in 1961 and 1962, and spent most of the 60s in England, where a number of his compositions were performed.

In 1970 Carr received a commission from the British Arts Council for Nastasya, a three-act opera based on Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, and returned to New Zealand to work with librettist Edward Hill in Wellington. This opera was completed in England the following year. In 1973 he took up a two-year Mozart Fellowship at Otago University, Dunedin (NZ).

Carr moved to Sydney in 1975 and became a lecturer at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, as well as teaching piano and composition privately. He continued to compose, receiving commissions from the New Zealand Embassy in Bonn, Musica Viva, Radio NZ, the Australia Council and Sally Mays. He was also commissioned by Alberts to write a harmony book for students in 1976.

Edwin Carr returned to New Zealand in 1984. He continued to teach until the end of 1987, thereafter devoting himself to composition. Carr's works have been performed internationally, and have also been recorded. A conductor as well as a composer, Carr himself conducted some of these recordings, including that of Nastasya, and concerts of his own and other composers' music in New Zealand and Australia.

Edwin Carr died in March 2003 at the age of 76. His autobiography, A life set to music: the autobiography of Edwin Carr, was published by Blanchard Press in 2001.

Composed (121)

A Blake Cantata

for two-part children's choir and two pianos, 9m


for orchestra


for piano

Alla marcia

for piano

An Easter Cantata

for two-part soprano choir and organ, 12m

An Easter Cantata

for two-part soprano choir, string orchestra and timpani, 12m

An Easter Cantata

for mezzo-soprano, two-part soprano choir, descant voices and organ, 12m

An Edith Sitwell Song Cycle

for mezzo-soprano, oboe and piano, 14m


for soprano, piano and orchestra


for clarinet and orchestra, 8m


for clarinet and piano, 9m

Auckland '71

ode for male speaker, SATB chorus and orchestra, 12m

Concerto Ballabile

for piano and orchestra

Concerto for Oboe

for oboe and orchestra

Doves of Peace

for piano, 7m

El Tango

for orchestra


for piano, percussion and orchestra

Elegie (Elegy)

for oboe and piano

Five Bagatelles

for piano, 12m

Five Fragments from The Song of Solomon

for female voice and piano

Five Pieces for Orchestra

for orchestra, 12m

Five Pieces for Piano

for piano, 11m

Five Wolfskehl Songs

for baritone and orchestra, 14m

Five Wolfskehl Songs

for baritone and piano, 14m

Four Pieces

for oboe d'amore, strings and harp, 10m

Four Pieces

for oboe d'amore (or oboe) and piano, 6m

Four Songs

for mezzo-soprano and piano

Foxtrot from "Coup de Folie"

for piano duet, 3m

Foxtrot from "Coup de Folie"

for 2 pianos - 8 hands, 3m

Gaudeamus Overture

for orchestra, 10m


for piano

In the Rangitaiki Valley

for SSATBB choir

In the Rangitaki Valley

for 2 pianos - 8 hands


for piano

Lord Arthur Saville's Crime

comic opera in one act, 40m

Mardi Gras

for orchestra, 5m

Moderato Amabile

for piano


opera in three acts, 2h 15m

Ngataringa Nocturne and Scherzo

for oboe, oboe d'amore (or cor anglais) and piano

Night Music

scherzo for orchestra, 12m

No. 7

for piano

No. 8

for piano

O Soldier

for mezzo-soprano and viola


for wind octet

Organ Sonata

for organ, 12m

Out of Dark

for mezzo-soprano and piano

Out of Dark

for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, 14m

Pacific Festival Overture

for orchestra, 8m

Piano Concerto No. 1

for piano and orchestra, 20m

Piano Concerto No. 2

concerto for piano and orchestra, 20m

Piano Sonata No. 3

for piano, 13m

Poems for piano and orchestra

for piano and orchestra, 25m

Prelude and Aria

for oboe d'amore (or cor anglais) and piano, 6m 30s


for orchestra, 18m


for piano and string quartet, 12m


for piano

Seven Elizabethan Lyrics

for SATB choir and orchestra, 14m

Seven Elizabethan Lyrics

for SATB choir and piano duet

Seven Mediaeval Lyrics

for SATB choir and orchestra, 19m

Seven Mediaeval Lyrics

for SATB choir and piano duet

Seven Waiheke Lyrics

for SATB choir and piano duet


for small orchestra, 17m

Six Studies

for string orchestra, 13m


for solo violin, 12m


for violin and piano, 17m


for two pianos

Sonata No. 1

for piano, 12m

Sonata No. 2

for piano, 11m


for piano, 8m

Sonatina di maggio

sonata for musette in F or E Flat (or oboe) and piano

Spring Wind in London

for SATB choir

String Quartet No. 1

for string quartet, 14m

Suite No. 1

for two pianos, 10m

Suite No. 2 - Four Dances from Electra

for two pianists and two percussionists

Suite No. 2 - Four Dances from Electra

for two pianos and optional percussion, 9m

Suite No. 3

for two pianos, 7m

Symphony No. 1

for orchestra, 17m

Symphony No. 2 (The Exile)

for orchestra, 34m

Symphony No. 3

for orchestra, 16m

Symphony No. 4

for orchestra, 25m

Taupo - Te Ao Marama (The Eye of the World)

for soprano solo, SATB choir and orchestra, 40m

Te Tau (The Seasons)

for piano, 14m

Te Tau (The Seasons)

for piano and piano duet, 14m

Ten Concert Studies

for piano, 23m

The End of the Golden Weather

for orchestra, 10m

The Four Elements

for two pianos, 12m

The Mayor's New Coat

for orchestra, 24m

The Maze of the Muses

opera in one act

The Ring

for SATB choir

The Sea Child

for SATB choir

The Snowmaiden

for orchestra, 25m

The Snowmaiden

for piano

The Song of Solomon

for vocal soloists, speaker, choir and orchestra, 55m

The Twelve Signs: An Astrological Entertainment

for orchestra (without strings), 28m

The White Notes

for piano

Three Love Songs

for high soprano and piano, 7m

Three Pieces

for cello and piano, 25m

Three Pieces

for bassoon

Three Shakespeare Songs

for mezzo-soprano and piano, 9m

Three Songs from Childhood

for mezzo-soprano and violin, 8m

Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano

for horn, violin and piano, 12m

Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano

for violin, cello and piano

Two Dances

for viola and piano

Two Mansfield Poems

for oboe d'amore (or cor anglais) and piano, 12m

Two Tableaux for Orchestra

for orchestra, 8m


for piano

Voices of the Air!

for SATB choir

Waiheke Island

for oboe consort, 13m

Waikato Song

for choir and orchestra

Waikato Song

for two pianos, soprano, contralto and choir

Winter Bird

for SATB choir