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Professor Thomas Simaku



Thomas Simaku (b.1958) gained a PhD in Composition at the University of York (1991-96) where he studied with David Blake. Winner of the coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship in 1993 (Simaku was the only candidate in the UK to win the award that year), he also was the 1996 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the USA studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers' Workshop, California State University (1998), with Brian Ferneyhough.

Simaku's music has been reaching audiences all over Europe and the USA for more than two decades, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its expressive qualities and its unique blend of intensity and modernism.

Winner of a number of prestigious awards such as Serocki International Prize and Lutoslawski Award, a three-year fellowship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, Leverhulme Fellowship, DAAD Award at the ‘Hanns Eisler’ Academy in Berlin, University of York Anniversary Lectureship Award, Honourable Award from the Accademia di Lettere, Arti e Scienze in Rome and Honourable Mention at the Musical Personalities International Competition - Alexander Tansman. His CD portrait was released in 2008 on Naxos 21st Century Classics series and has received much critical acclaim. It reached the Best of Year list in the USA, as announced by the prestigious America Magazine Fanfare.

Thomas Simaku was the winner of the 2009 British Composer Award from BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors) with his work Soliloquy V – Flauto Acerbo. The judging panel ‘unanimously agreed that the winning work redefines the instrument in a visionary and entirely original way. They praised it for its virtuosity, depth of expression, and powerful imagination.'

In 2013 he was awarded the first prize of the International Competition for Lutosławski’s 100 Birthday. Simaku’s award-winning Concerto for Orchestra, chosen from 160 compositions submitted anonymously from 37 countries, received its world premiere by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the final concert of the 2013 Warsaw Autumn International Festival.

Notable performances include, among others, those given by the Arditti Quartet, Kreutzer Quartet, Diotima Quatuor, English Northern Philharmonia, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, Slovenian Radio-Television Orchestra, Amsterdam New Music Ensemble, Goldberg Ensemble, Tokyo Phonosphere Musicale, Copenhagen Sinfonietta, Insomnio Ensemble, Capricorn, Norwegian Medieval Trio, New Music Players, Concorde, and Austrian 'Ticom' Ensemble. Internationally renowned soloists such as Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Rohan de Saram, Neil Heyde, Garth Knox, Noriko Kawai, Ian Pace, Carlos Galvez, Sarah Leonard, Sarah Watts, Joseph Houston et al. have performed his solo pieces. Most recently, his Klang Inventions was performed by Klngforum Wien.

Simaku's works have been performed throughout Europe, as well as in North America and the Far East, in festivals such as the ISCM World Music Days (‘95, ’99, ‘00, ‘01, ‘03, ‘04, ’05, ‘06 and '12), Huddersfield, Tanglewood, Avignon, Miami, Zagreb Biennale, Birmingham, Munich, Rome, Cagliari, Cologne, Weimar, Prague, Odense (Denmark), KlangSpectrum (Austria), Viitassari (Finland), etc. Broadcasts of his music include those by BBC Radio 3, Radio-France, ORF (Austria), SWR2 (Stuttgart), Deutschlandfunk (Cologne), MDR, ABC (Australia), Brazilian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Hellenic, Icelandic, Irish, Israeli, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Swiss national radio stations.

In 2018 Thomas Simaku received a PRSF Award from the Composers Fund, which will contribute substantially towards the cost of recording and producing a new CD with the Swedish Label BIS Records, to be released in 2020.

School Roles

  • Board of Directors, University of York Music Press
  • Erasmus Co-ordinator



  • Composition
  • European Modernism
  • Contemporary Music
  • East-European musical aura - Aspects of Modality and its integration into western contemporary idioms


  • British Composer Award – BASCA, London, December 2009 DAAD Research Award – ‘Hanns Eisler’ Academy of Music, Berlin; October-November 2007 Leverhulme Research Fellowship held at the  University of York, 2004–6
  • Honourable Mention - 6th International Competition of Musical Personalities ▫ Alexander Tansman Association for the Promotion of Culture, Academy of Music Lodz, Poland 2006
  • Anniversary Lectureship Award - University of York, 2005–6
  • 1st Prize - Serocki International Competition, Polish Ministry of Culture, 2004
  • 2nd Prize - Lutoslawski Award, Chester Edition, 2005
  • AHRC Fellowship in Creative Arts held at the  University of York, 2000–2003
  • Honorary Award - Accademia di Lettere, Arti e Scienze, Rome, 2002
  • Finalist - Prix International de Composition, Luxembourg Sinfonietta, 2002
  • Award - Composers’ Workshop, California State University, 1998
  • Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition, Tanglewood, USA, 1996
  • Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship - London, 1993–5


Full publications list

View Thomas Simaku's full publications list at the York Research Database.


Some 80 works published by UYMP and Emerson Edition, including:

  • L'image oubliée d’après Debussy
    Commissioned by the York Late Music Series 2018 to mark Debussy's centenary, the world premiere was given by James Willshire in St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York on 1 September 2018. Watch L'image oubliée d’après Debussy.
  • String Quartet No 5
  • Written for the Quatuor Diotima, the world premiere was given at the 2015 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 
    Watch String Quartet No 5 performed in York by Quatuor Diotima in November 2018
  • String Quartet No 4
    Written for the Quatuor Diotima, first performance at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 26th November 2011
    Watch an from String Quartet No 4 performed in York by Quatuor Diotima
  • Insomnio for fifteen players
    (UYMP: York, 200) Commissioned jointly by Deutschlandfunk and Insomnio Ensemble, world première was given on 24th March 2007 at the Forum fur Neuer Musik in Cologne.
  • Hullys for Symphony Orchestra
    (UYMP: York, 2003) Selected by the International Jury for the 2005 ISCM - World New Music Days Festival. The first performance to be given by the Slovenian Radio-Television Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sian Edwards on 21 April 2005 at the ISCM/Zagreb Biennale.
  • Radius – String Quartet No.2
    (UYMP: York, 2003) First performance by the London Kreutzer Quartet on 17 May 2003 at Augsburg, Germany.; subsequently selected for the 2004 ISCM Festival, Switzerland, performed by the Arditti Quartet.
  • Plenilunio II for String Orchestra
    (UYMP: York, 2004) The first performance was given by the “Amadeus” Chamber Orchestra of the Polish Radio on 6 June 2004, Warsaw Philharmonic.
  • Réflexions de la Croix III
    (UYMP: York, 2003) First performance was given by Peter Sheppard Skaerved and the Copenhagen Sinfonietta, on 30 April 2005, Copenhagen.
  • Soliloquy Cycle (I, II, III)
    (UYMP: York, 2002) The first performance was given by members of the TICOM Ensemble on 30 November 2003 at Begegnungen Internationale Konzertserie in Innsbruck, Austria, Concert-Portrait.


  • CD portrait on Naxos 21st Century Classics Series [8.570428] performed by Kreutzer Quartet was released on 5 May 2008 to much critical acclaim. The CD appeared in the best of the year list for classical music published in the Fanfare Magazine, USA

    Reviews include:
    • Deutchland-radio Köln, (July 2008),
    • Fanfare Magazine, USA (September – October 2008)
    • Tempo, Cambridge University Press (July 2009)
  • des pas chromatiques – hommage à Debussy performed by Nicky Losseff included in the CD of Pianthology released by NMC  (D181 - 1 August 2011)
  • Luxembourg Sinfonietta International Composition Prize 2002 (Editions LGNM, No 402)



  • Composition I & II
  • The String Quartet
  • East–European Twentieth Century Classics (Ligeti, Kurtag, Lutoslwaski, Penderecki)


  • MA courses: 20th & 21st Century Composition & Orchestration
  • MA supervisions
  • PhD supervisions

Contact details

Professor Thomas Simaku
School of Arts and Creative Technologies
University of York
YO10 5GB

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 4448

External links