As one of Britain's most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman's work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he's also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker. His restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times.
Looking back on a lifetime of achievement that ranges from his award-winning score for the film The Piano to the acclaimed opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, via a string of high-profile collaborations with everyone from Sir Harrison Birtwistle to Damon Albarn, he's still looking forward - pushing the boundaries of his art with a diverse and prolific burst of creativity as energetic and challenging as any new and iconoclastic young kid on the block.
Nyman first made his mark on the musical world in the late 1960s, when he invented the term 'minimalism' and, still in his mid-twenties, earned one of his earliest commissions, to write the libretto for Birtwistle's 1969 opera Down By The Greenwood Side.
In 1976 he formed his own ensemble, the Campiello Band (now the Michael Nyman Band) and over three decades and more, the group has been the laboratory for much of his inventive and experimental compositional work.
For more than 30 years, he had also enjoyed a highly successful career as a film composer, the role in which - sometimes to his slightly rueful regret - he is probably best known by the general public.
His most notable scores number a dozen Peter Greenaway films, including such classics as The Draughtsman's Contract and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; Neil Jordan's The End Of The Affair; several Michael Winterbottom features including Wonderland and A Cock And Bull Story; the Hollywood blockbuster Gattaca - and, of course, his unforgettable music for Jane Campion's 1993 film, The Piano, the soundtrack album of which has sold more than three million copies. He also co-wrote the score for the 1999 film Ravenous with his friend and sometime protégé, Damon Albarn. Most recently his music was used in the 2009 BAFTA award winning and Oscar nominated film, Man on Wire.
He has also written widely for the stage. His operas include The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (1986) and Facing Goya (2000) and he has provided ballet music for a number of the world's most distinguished choreographers.
In 2008, he published the sumptuous photo-book Sublime. His first gallery exhibition, Videofile, in which his photos are presented alongside a series of short films, was exhibited at the De la Warr Pavillion January to March 2009.
In October 2009, Nyman released The Glare, a collaborative collection of songs with David McAlmont, which cast his work in a new light. The album - recorded with the Michael Nyman Band - finds McAlmont putting lyrics based on contemporary news stories to 11 pieces of Nyman music drawn from different phases of his career.
Michael Nyman was born in London in 1944. He was awarded the CBE for services to British music in 2008 and has been recently honoured with the 2011 Ivor Novello Classical Music award.