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John Ritchie


Born: 1921 Died: 2014


John Ritchie was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1921. He graduated in music at the Otago University and trained as a teacher at Dunedin Teachers' College. Ritchie served in the navy in World War II and subsequently undertook post-graduate study with Walter Piston at Harvard University from 1956-57.

In 1946 he was appointed to Canterbury University becoming Professor and Head of Music in 1962. Ritchie served as acting and Deputy Vice-Chancellor from 1973-83. During 1967-68 he held a Visiting Professorship at Exeter University and served on the board of Trinity College of Music, London.

He conducted many choirs and, in 1959, formed the John Ritchie String Orchestra and later the Christchurch Civic Orchestra. He guest-conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and for the New Zealand Ballet. In 1974 he was Music Director of the Xth Commonwealth Games and in 1986 the Papal Visit of Pope John Paul. Ritchie was Secretary General of the International Society for Music Education from 1976-84 and its President 1990-92. He was elected an Individual Member of the International Music Council in 1979.

As a composer he is known for choral music, music for brass, concerto-type works, carols and church music. These include Concertino for Clarinet and Strings, Concerto for Saxophone and Small Orchestra, Threnody (brass band), The Snow Goose (flute and orchestra), and Papanui Road Overture (full orchestra).

John Ritchie was Professor Emeritus at Canterbury University until his death. He was awarded the CANZ Citation for service to New Zealand music in 1992. He had a family of three daughters and two sons. His wife, Anita, a nationally recognised soprano, died in 2001.

John Ritchie passed away on the morning of his 93rd birthday, the 29th of September 2014.

Composed (104)

Album Leaves

for solo guitar, 3m

Alley of Shandan

for brass band, 4m

Aquarius: Suite No. 2 for String Orchestra

for string orchestra, 13m


for violin and piano, 7m

But Peaceful was the Night

carol for SATB a cappella choir, 1m 20s

Canary Wine

for SSAA choir, 10m

Carol Of The Field Mice

for SATB unaccompanied, 2m

Charlie is my Darling

arranged for TBB choir and piano

Chorale for Brass Band

for brass band, 2m


for SATB choir, 3m

Christmas Eve

for SATB unaccompanied, 1m

Concertino for Clarinet and String Orchestra

for clarinet and string orchestra, 14m

Concerto for Alto Saxophone

for E-flat saxophone and small orchestra, 17m

Dominus Firmamentum - The Lord Is My Rock

for three choirs and organ, 9m


for solo guitar and string quartet, 4m

Eight Folk Dances

for chamber orchestra, 35m

Ergo Tua Rura Manebunt

for SATB choir, flute, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones and strings, 20m

Fanfare For John Paul II

for brass band, 1m

Fanfare For Lincoln

for brass band, 1m

Fiori Musicali

for string orchestra, 10m

Five William Blake Songs of Innocence

for high voice and guitar, 13m

Flourish for an occasion

for brass band, 30s

Fortune, my foe

for TBB choir and piano

Four Zhivago Songs

for voice and piano, 12m

Full Fathom Five

for TBB choir and piano, 2m

Funeral Music

for 2 trumpets, timpani, strings, 3m

Grant us Thy Peace

for SATB chorus and organ, 4m

Haka Wahine

for brass band, 4m

He is so Sweet and Small

carol for unison voices and organ, 2m

Heave away, my Johnny

arranged for TBB male voice choir and piano

Here He has Peace

for solo voice and SATB choir, 1m 40s

Here's to the maiden

for TBB choir and piano

Introduction and Allegro

for euphonium and piano, 8m

Jubilate Deo

for SSA choir and orchestra, 4m

Kelvin Grove

for TBB choir and piano

Kyrie and Gloria

for SATB choir, strings, timpani, 10m

Lauda Sion Salvatorem

for soprano, SATB semi-chorus and chamber ensemble, 20m

Let Christians All

carol for SATB a cappella choir, 3m

Let It Be So

for solo voice and organ, 2m


for male voices, trumpet, timpani and piano, 6m

Mass For Unity

for congregation and keyboard, 8m

Mass No.1 In G Minor

for two-part treble choir and organ, 8m

Mass No.3

for congregational singing, 7m

Mass No.4

for congregational singing, 6m

May eternal light shine on them, O Lord

for choir and organ, 4m

Missa Brevis

for SA voices and organ, 12m

N.Z.A.B. 25

for brass band, 5m

Nine Folk Dances

for chamber orchestra, 35m

Now Every Child

for unison voices, 3m

O Breathe on Me

for SAB choir and organ, 3m

O Clap Your Hands

for treble voices and orchestra, 2m

Papanui Road

concert overture for orchestra, 12m


for brass quintet, 8m

Partita for Wind Octet

for flute, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets and 2 trombones, 12m

Pisces: Partita Concertante

for solo violin and orchestra, 20m

Praise (Psalm 150)

for accompanied SSA choir, 6m

Pray For Peace

for mezzo and piano, 2m

Prayer for Epiphany

for SATB choir and organ

Prayer For Poverty

for high voice and piano, 3m

Psalm 150

for choir and brass band

Rangi Ruru: A Commemorative Celebration

for chorus, semi-chorus SSA, dance group and orchestra, 40m

Resonet In Laudibus, Christmas Motet

for SATB a cappella choir, 2m

Serpent of Brass

for cornet and piano

Six Folk-Songs

for SAB choir and piano, 14m


for string orchestra, 4m

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

for clarinet in B flat and piano, 16m

String Quartet

for string quartet, 25m

Suite for Piano

for piano

Suite for Recorders

for four recorders, 4m

Suite No. 1 for Strings

for string orchestra, 13m

Sweet and Sour

for solo flute, 5m

The Holly's Up

carol for SATB a cappella choir, 1m

The King of Glory Enters

for SAB choir and organ, 2m

The Lamb

for unison treble voices, 2m

The Oxen

for SATB choir, 1m

The Snow Goose

for flute and piano, 7m

The Snow Goose

for flute and chamber orchestra, 7m

Then Laugheth The Year

for SATB choir, strings and 2 pianos, 18m

Three Caricatures

for piano, 7m

Three Caricatures

for harpsichord, 7m

Three Housman Lyrics

for high voice and piano, 5m

Three Pieces for Polly

for violin and piano


for brass band, 5m

To Daffodils

for unaccompanied tenor, baritone and bass, 3m

Torches, Torches

for SATB a cappella choir, 2m

Turkey in the Straw

arranged for string orchestra, 4m

Turkey in the Straw

for orchestra, 4m

Two's Company

for two guitars, strings and harp, 4m

Under The Greenwood Tree

for voice and piano, 2m

Up And Get Us Gone, My Neighbour

for SATB a cappella, 2m

We Bid You Welcome

for SATB choir with soprano soloist, 3m

We Kneel Before You, Christ Our King

for unison trebles and piano, 2m

Welcome, Sir Christmas

for SATB choir, 3m


for solo guitar, 9m

Wings of the Morning

for solo tenor, chorus and military band, 13m

Winter and Rough Weather

for SAB chorus and piano, 20m

Zhivago's Christmas Star

for soprano and piano or orchestra

Zhivago's Mary Magdalene Songs

for voice and piano, 13m

Arranged (4)

Fiori Musicali

for string orchestra, 10m

Here's to the maiden

for TBB choir and piano

Kelvin Grove

for TBB choir and piano