Timothy Baxter · 1935-2021

The Danish-based British composer Timothy Baxter (1935-2021) passed away on May 15, 85 years old. He leaves behind an extensive musical oeuvre, and he wrote his last piece just a few days before his death.

Timothy Baxter’s life was a life in music from beginning to end. From his childhood, growing up with musical parents, to his latest album release in 2020 and his last composition finished a few days before his death. 

His formative years were very much centred around the church, first as a choirboy and later as an organist, and so naturally his compositional work started early, and he wrote his first piece for choir when he was fifteen years old.

He began his musical studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London specialising in both piano and composition. His initial composition teacher, the South African Priaulx Rainier, was a pivotal and encouraging figure, who had the young student enter the Academy’s yearly composition competition, which he won. This early success led to Baxter directing his attention primarily to composition, and so further competition success followed. 

Amongst his later teachers in composition were Anthony Milner and Alan Bush, and his attendance at the Dartington Summer School of Music led to contact with a diverse and influential range of composition teachers such as Stefan Wolpe, the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, and the American composers Elliott Carter and Aaron Copland. 

He was Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1965-1990 and Fellow of The Royal Academy of Music (FRAM). In addition, he was an international examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music from 1966-2005. 

Since 1990, Timothy Baxter lived in Denmark and was a member of the Danish Composers’ Association and of Komvest (Vesterbro Komponistforening) since 2009 and chairman for a number of years. 

Baxter has continued to write works for the church, including choral pieces, cantatas, organ works and liturgical arrangements. Furthermore, he has written chamber music, ballet music, orchestral music and educational pieces. Edition·S has published several of his works spanning seven decades.

In December 2020, an album of Timothy Baxter’s chamber music was released, featuring various Danish and international musicians and ensembles. Listen to a few pieces from the album: Triptych for clarinet and piano and his first String Quartet written in 1965.

A release concert was planned for 13 June 2021 in Kr Hyllinge Kirke, Denmark. This concert will now also be a memorial concert, and pianist Ulrich Stærch will perform Timothy Baxter’s last written piece.