Collection: John Rimmer
John Rimmer was born in Auckland in 1939. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Zealand in 1961 before studying composition with Ronald Tremain at the University of Auckland, earning his Master of Arts degree in 1963 while also completing postgraduate studies in musicology. He was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the University of Toronto, earning a Doctor of Music degree in electronic music under Gustav Ciamaga and also in composition under John Weinzweig.
Rimmer’s compositions employ a wide variety of musical forces—instrumental, orchestral, choral, and electroacoustic—and have been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. His output includes a number of prize-winning works and commissions, including De Aestibus Rerum for chamber ensemble, which received First Prize at the International Horn Competition in 1983, and computer-generated work Fleeting Images, which received the Prix de la Confédération Internationale de la Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges in 1986. Rimmer wrote The Ring of Fire (1976) for the London Sinfonietta’s first visit to New Zealand and in 1989—on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday—his Symphony: The Feeling of Sound was commissioned and performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Symphony (1968), performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1970, established Rimmer’s international reputation but perhaps his most performed work is For the Kokako (1978), a set of piano pieces embedded in the bell-like songs of the endangered native wattle-bird. Other works, such as Tides (1981) for solo horn and electronic music, simulate the landscape of the Auckland isthmus.
Rimmer founded the electronic music studio at the University of Auckland in 1976 and new music ensemble the Karlheinz Company in 1978. In 1994 Rimmer received the KBB Citation of the Composers Association of New Zealand for services to music. In 1995 he was awarded a personal professorial chair at The University of Auckland and in 1997 a Lilburn Trust award for services to New Zealand music. Rimmer retired from his position at the University of Auckland in February 1999 in order to compose full time. In 2002/2003 he was Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, followed by the Dalewool Auckland Brass in 2004, and the Manukau City Symphony in 2005/2006. In recent years he has conducted brass bands, choirs and community orchestras as well as following a busy schedule of composing.