Tom Henry


Photo by Terry Lane.

Tom Henry (born 1971) is an Australian composer whose works have been performed in Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.

Born in Melbourne, he began his musical career as a flautist. After obtaining a Masters Degree in Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts he embarked on a period of intensive overseas study with the French virtuoso Patrick Gallois. After returning to Australia in 2002 he held a number of positions including Associate Principal Flute with Orchestra Victoria, and Guest Principal Flute with many ensembles including the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Pops Orchestra. He also worked extensively in operaand lectured in flute at the University of Melbourne from 2006 to 2009.

In recent years he has become increasingly in demand as a composer, and has written works for orchestra, choir, chamber music, solo piano, organ and voice. He completed his studies in harmony, counterpoint and composition with the late Australian composer Lawrence Whiffin (a former student of Rene Leibowitz). He then undertook orchestration studies with Julian Yu, and further composition studies with Stuart Greenbaum and Elliott Gyger. He holds a Masters Degree in Composition (2012) from the University of Melbourne, from which he received an Award for Best Composition Graduate.

His many works for piano include two Piano Sonatas.  His First Piano Sonata (2006, revised 2011) was a Finalist in the 2011 American Liszt Society Bicentennial Composition Prize. It was given its first performance in May 2011 in Melbourne by Michael Kieran Harvey for ASTRA Chamber Music Society and a studio recording was released in 2012 on MOVE Records. An audio sample of the final movement (‘moto perpetuo’) is available at Move records.

Chamber works include a commission for Piano Trio for the Freshwater Trio (2009), and Time is another river (after poems by Borges, Neruda and Machado) for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, for Syzygy Ensemble (2012). Recent chamber works include his first String Quartet, Scenes from a poet's life (2015), which was jointly commissioned by the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Recital Centre for the Flinders Quartet; a studio recording has recently been released on ABC Classics. After his second string quartet, Shelley on the Water (2016), commissioned and first performed by the Huon Quartet, his most recent chamber work is Towards Patmos (after Hölderlin) (2018), commissioned by Macedon Music and first performed by Syzygy Ensemble in October 2018.

His orchestral works include Variations for orchestra in three movements (2009), which won the APRA Prize in the 2010 3MBS National Composer Awards, and Ancestors for orchestra (2011), which was given its first performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Young, in October 2011.

His works for voice include a song cycle on Rilke’s Book of Images (“Das Buch der Bilder”) (2006). He has twice been commissioned by the Australian Chamber Choir to write major unaccompanied works for their European tours. In both works he chose themes of identity, belonging and displacement. The epic Kakadu Man - the words of Bill Neidjie (2015) is a setting of the words of the late Aboriginal (Gagudju) Elder, Bill Neidjie (1920-2002). The second, Uncertain Journeys (2017) combines contemporary accounts of the refugee experience with parallel texts from the Christian Bible and the 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz. Both works met with critical success in their European and Australian performances: see PRESS.

Scores and Parts of selected works, as well as recordings, can be accessed at the Australian Music Centre:

Copyright Tom Henry 2019