Julian Wagstaff lives in his native Edinburgh, where he is active as a composer, arranger and guitarist. He worked as a translator, television researcher and computer programmer before turning to music as a profession in the late 1990s. His interest in language, political history and the sciences continues to be reflected in much of his music and in his theatre libretti. He studied composition with Nigel Osborne at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his PhD in 2008.
Wagstaff first came to public attention in 2001 with the musical John Paul Jones. Based on the life of the Scots-born sailor and hero of the American Revolution, the piece was revived in 2010 in association with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A specific interest in German history is reflected in Treptow for string orchestra (2005), Wagstaff’s most-performed work. In August 2007, Wagstaff presented his hour-long chamber opera The Turing Test on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to sell-out audiences and critical acclaim. That November saw the release of his Piano Quintet, performed by the Edinburgh Quartet and produced by Calum Malcolm, on an album entitled Frontiers and Bridges.
In 2011, Wagstaff was commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry to compose the piano trio A Persistent Illusion; that project led directly to the commissioning of his opera Breathe Freely. He enjoys close connections with many of Scotland’s leading musicians, and his works are widely performed throughout Scotland and beyond. Wagstaff is published by Europa Edition.
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American Record Guide
'The performances and sound of both the opera and the trio are very good.'more >>Gramophone
'I admire the clarity of the piece...Laura Margaret Smith is a spirited young mezzo with a full, fearless voice...'more >>Chemistry World
'By turns witty and sombre, tonal and atonal, the music is engaging in its own right…'more >>