(b Manchester, June 23, 1948). English composer. He studied composition with Leighton and serial techniques with Wellesz at Oxford (BMus 1970). His studies continued at the Warsaw Academy with Rudziński, and at the Polish Radio Experimental Studio (1970–71). While in Poland, Osborne helped establish an artistic commune and the Materials Service Corporation, a live electronic improvisation group which toured students’ and workers’ clubs. In 1978 he was appointed lecturer in music at the University of Nottingham, leaving in 1990 to become professor at the University of Edinburgh. Awards for his works include the Radio Suisse Romande Opera (1971), Gaudeamus (1973) and Radcliffe (1977) prizes.
Osborne’s compositional development has involved working through the modernism which formed his artistic background. The Concerto for flute and chamber orchestra (1980) employs seven metres, superimposed in various combinations, with seven corresponding sets of pitch relations. Such structuring reflects both the legacy of the avant garde’s concern for pre-compositional organization, and his own capacity and enthusiasm for analytical thought: ‘I don’t view music romantically, if you think about the brain, then part of its natural function is organizing and processing sound’ (Osborne). In the 1970s, he found a useful analogue to musical processes in structuralist thought. ...