Paul Griffiths

Paul Anthony Griffiths, OBE, is a British music critic, novelist, and librettist. He is particularly noted for his writings on modern classical music and for having written the libretti for two 20th century operas, Tan Dun’s Marco Polo and Elliott Carter’s What Next?

Books in order of publication:

Music history and criticism

Modern Music: A Concise History from Debussy to Boulez, Thames and Hudson, 1978 (Revised & Subsequent version, 1994,)

Modern Music: The avant garde since 1945, Braziller, 1981 (revised and expanded as Modern Music and After: Directions since 1945, Oxford University Press, 1995; third edition, Oxford University Press, 2010

A Guide to Electronic Music, Thames and Hudson, 1981.

The String Quartet: A History, Thames and Hudson, 1985.

New Sounds, New Personalities: British composers of the 1980s in conversation with Paul Griffiths, Faber and Faber, 1985

The Penguin Companion to Classical Music, Penguin Group, 2005.

The Substance of Things Heard: writings about music, Volume 31 of Eastman Studies in Music, University of Rochester Press, 2005.

A Concise History of Western Music, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

La musica del novecento, Einaudi, 2014.

Monographs on 20th-century composers

Boulez (Volume 16 of Oxford Studies of Composers), Oxford University Press, 1978

Cage (Volume 18 of Oxford Studies of Composers), Oxford University Press, 1981

Peter Maxwell Davies (Contemporary Composers series), Robson Books, 1982.

Second Viennese School: Schoenberg, Webern, Berg (with Oliver Neighbour and George Perle for the New Grove Composer Biographies series) Norton, 1983.

György Ligeti (Contemporary Composers series), Robson Books, 1983.

Bartók (Master Musicians series), J.M. Dent & Sons, 1988

Olivier Messiaen and the Music of Time, Faber & Faber, 2008.

Stravinsky (Master Musicians series), J.M. Dent & Sons, 1992.

The Sea on Fire: Jean Barraqué (Volume 25 of Eastman Studies in Music), University of Rochester Press, 2003.


The Jewel Box, or, A Mirror Remade – premiered 1991 (published by Chatto & Windus,

Aeneas in Hell – premiered 1994 (unpublished)

Marco Polo – premiered 1996 (published by G. Schirmer,

What Next? – premiered 1999 (published by Boosey & Hawkes)

Gulliver (unpublished)

Novels and short stories

Myself and Marco Polo: A Novel of Changes, Chatto & Windus, 1989.

The Lay of Sir Tristram, Chatto & Windus, 1991.

“Leda” in Ovid Metamorphosed (Philip Terry ed.), Chatto & Windus, 2000.

let me tell you, Reality Street Editions, 2008.

The Tilted Cup: Noh Stories, Sylph Editions, 2013.

Pavillon lunaire: contes nô, Éditions de la Différence, 2014.

Mr. Beethoven, Henningham Family Press, 2020. New York Review Books, 2021.

The Tomb Guardians, Henningham Family Press, 2021.

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