Sir Harrison Birtwistle, the first composer of this Roche Commissions series, was born in England in 1934 and belongs among the best and most original composers of the world. Following several periods as a Visiting Professor in the U.S., he became the Music Director of the National Theatre and later on headed the Composition and Contemporary Music Faculty at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 1988, he was knighted by Her Majesty, the Queen. The most important works by Birtwistle include his two operas, Punch and Judy and The Last Supper, the orchestra work Earth Dances as well as Pulse Shadows, a lieder cycle based on poems by Paul Celan. For the 2004 Roche Commissions, he composed "Night’s Black Bird", a continuance of "The Shadow of Night", an orchestra work he completed in 2001.
- The Academy