Philip Armstrong


Philip Armstrong is a composer of modern classical music. He is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied composition with James Illiff and electronic music with Paul Patterson. After winning the prestigious Manson Prize for composition, he received a scholarship to study for a Master’s degree in music composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara with Peter Racine Fricker and computer music with JoAnn Kuchera Morin. He acknowledges the long-term influence on his music of works by Witold Lutosławski, Hans Werner Henze, and Harrison Birtwistle.

Examples of his music are published on this website. For scores and detailed information on pieces please click on the links on the main menu above. To hear recordings of his music please use the More-Listen button.

Aesthetic State

The 15-minute orchestral piece ‘Aesthetic State’ takes its point of departure from the notion of an aesthetic state developed by the Weimar poet, dramatist, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller. Writing in 1795, Schiller despaired at the horrors of the Reign of Terror in France. He reflected that a society can only achieve civil freedom after its citizens have taken on-board the inviolability of moral action, which in turn requires the capacity for moral freedom. He argued that it is the mental state of the aesthetic that enables the will and its thoughts and feelings to be free, which in turn enables it to choose a moral path.

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The 15-minute orchestral piece 'Molly the Miraculous Music-Theorist' is a companion piece to the symphonic poem 'Die Ideale' (The Ideals) by Franz Liszt, which in turn was inspired by passages from the poem of the same name by Friedrich Schiller. These Weimar works are in turn linked with the thought experiment 'Mary the Super Scientist', proposed by Frank Jackson to examine the irreducibility of conscious experience to micro-physical properties. Molly the miraculous music-theorist is unable to describe music fully without recourse to an account of the phenomenal and aesthetic experience of music perception.

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