Welsh composer Receives Honorary Doctorate


Professor Emeritus Rhian Samuel has today been awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Music) from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen. 

Rhian Samuel was born in Aberdare, Wales, in 1944 to a Welsh-speaking, musical family. She has lived in Britain and the United States and currently divides her time between Oxford, London and Aberdyfi, North Wales. She writes orchestral music, chamber music and vocal and choral music and has worked with many of today's foremost classical artists.

To date more than 100 of her works have been published. In the USA she was joint winner of the ASCAP-Rudolph Nissim Award, 1983, for her choral-orchestral work, La belle dame sans merci. In the UK she won first prize at the Greenwich Festival (1979) and has received subsequent accolades including the Glyndŵr Medal for services to the Arts in Wales. Her first large orchestral work was Elegy-Symphony (St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor, 1981) while her Tirluniau/Landscapes (2000) was premiered at the BBC Millennium Proms in the Albert Hall by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW, Tadaaki Otaka, conductor)

After her undergraduate training in Britain, Rhian Samuel spent 16 years in the United States, completing a PhD in 16th-century musica ficta at Washington University, St Louis, and then teaching Theory and Composition at the St Louis Conservatory. On her return to Britain in 1984, she taught at Reading University, becoming Head of the Music Department in 1993; she  moved to City University, London, in 1995 (Professor, 1999; Professor Emeritus, 2007). She co-edited the Norton/New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994). In 2006, she received the Glyndŵr Award from The Tabernacl Trust for her contribution to the Arts in Wales. She now teaches composition at Magdalen College.

“It’s our privilege today to welcome Rhian Samuel to the University,” says Professor Mererid Hopwood of UWTSD, who presented Professor Samuel with her award. “We are all part of Rhian’s family in Wales and we join her in opening our hearts and ears to her music.”

On receiving her Honorary Doctorate, Professor Rhian Samuel said: “I’d like to thank the University for the great honour they’ve bestowed on me.  I was completely overwhelmed by the wonderful introduction given to me by Professor Mererid Hopwood.  It’s very special to receive an award from where I grew up and to be acknowledged for my work at home.”