updated 4 September 2023
© 2015 by Manu Theobald, München

Christian Mason

Compositeur britannique né en 1984 à Londres.

Christian Mason studied musicology at the University of York and composition with Sinan Savaskan, Nicola LeFanu, Thomas Simaku, Brian Ferneyhough, and Julian Anderson. During this time, he also attended summer sessions at Stockhausen in Germany, Dartington in England, Royaumont and Acanthes in France, and Takefu in Japan.

Mason was composition assistant to Harrison Birtwistle before writing his thesis at King’s College London under the direction of George Benjamin. He has been composer-in-residence at Eton College, Villa Concordia, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Experimentalstudio, Südwestrundfunk, and Orchestre National d’Auvergne.

He has received commissions from Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Donaueschingen Festival, Louvre Auditorium, and Wigmore Hall, and from ensembles such as the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, and the Ligeti Quartet. His works have been performed at the Ultraschall, Witten, and Lucerne festivals and by Ensemble Recherche, Vienna Philharmonic, Munich Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Remix, Asko-Schönberg Ensemble, Orchestre National de France, and Ensemble Intercontemporain.

Mason is interested in unusual sounds such as the harmonica and the musical saw, and he is a keen theremin player. Strangeness and the remote generally play an important role in his work. He is thus fascinated by anything that is difficult to apprehend, motivated by a desire to better understand his own limits. Stars and eternity, for example, dominate the titles of his pieces, such as Zwischen den Sternen (Between the Stars, 2019), Eternity in an hour (2019), and An Ocean of Years (2020). He is also interested in relationships with inanimate living beings, which, rather than provoking despair, bring him a comforting feeling of permanence. An avid walker and ecologically minded, he has also written pieces on nature and the relationship that humankind maintains with it, such as in Man Made (2018).

In his instrumentation, he explores space in unorthodox ways. In Layers of Love (2015), the two violins are placed on opposite sides of the ensemble. In Aimless Wonder (2017) and Zwischen den Sternen, the musicians move about the stage, leaving and entering. For Mason, the traditional concert creates an almost spiritual division between the spectator and the performer. He sees concerts as rituals where each must play their role, with listening as important as performing. Mason traces his first awareness of the relationship between music and space to a performance he attended in his teens of Le Visage nuptial (The Bridal Face, 1946) by Pierre Boulez. He later paid homage to Boulez in Open to infinity: a grain of sand (2015), commissioned for the French composer’s ninetieth birthday. In this piece, Mason uses the same structure and instrumentation — piano, harp, and vibraphone — as Boulez’s sur Incises (on Incises, 1998).

Mason is guest professor of composition at the University of Cambridge and founder and artistic co-director of the Octandre Ensemble, alongside the English conductor Jon Hargreaves, who promotes contemporary music through regular performances throughout the UK. Mason is also a mentor for the patron scheme at the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers Project.

His works are published by Breitkopf & Härtel.

Awards and Scholarships

  • Composer Prize from the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, 2015
  • Mendelssohn Scholarship, 2012
  • British Composer Award for Learning Self-Modulation, 2012
  • Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, 2009

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2023


Site du compositeur, Breitkopf & Härtel, BabelScores, France Musique

Liens Internet

(liens vérifiés en juin 2023).


  • Arnold WHITTAL « A sense of space: recent chamber works by Christian Mason », in The Musical Times, Autumn 2022, Vol. 163 Issue 1960, p. 39-58.
  • Arnold WHITTAL, « Motives for Music: London, May 2018 », in Tempo, January 2019, Volume 73, Issue 287.
  • Arnold WHITTAL, « Questioning the sound: the music of Christian Mason », in The Musical Times, Summer 2017, Issue 1939, p. 85-99.


  • Christian MASON, « Zwischen Den Sternen », Ensemble Recherche, 1 CD Winter & Winter, 2020, 910 267-2.
  • Christian MASON, The lamp light in the willow trees, dans « Carosello di Fantasie », 1 CD Stradivarius, 2016, STR 37063.
  • Christian MASON, Clear Night ; Learning Self Modulation ; The Years of Light ; Isolarion: Rituals of Resonance ; Layers of Love, dans « Unseen Light », 1 CD col legno, 2016, WWE 1CD 40415.
  • Christian MASON, _In time entwined, in space enlaced _, dans « The Jerwood Series 6 », 1 CD London Sinfonietta Label, 2009, SINF CD2-2009.