Alexander BALANESCU – composer
Film Composer & Virtuoso Musician
Romanian born prolific composer Alexander Balanescu is one of the world’s leading contemporary violinists and started scoring films as a young man back in the late 1980’s. His is an influential voice in post-minimalist composition, usually featuring his unique and iconic violin, in the meeting of contemporary classical and alternative popular music. When he’s not scoring films he spends his time touring the world with his quartet, constantly looking to the future in music.
His 2015 score for Wall To Wall’s 90 mins tv film for the BBC, The Scandalous Lady W, was nominated for the FIFA d’Or and he won Romania’s GOPO award for Best Original Soundtrack for his score for The Magic Mountain directed by Anca Damian for Aparte Film. Earlier he scored Philip Haas’s Oscar and Palm D’Or Nominated film Angels and Insects for The Goldwyn Company/Playhouse Pictures and worked again with Philip Haas on The Death of Pentheus, which was shown at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. He scored Daniel Mulloy’s Edinburgh Film Festival Best Short Baby, made by Sister Films for Channel 4. Wim Wenders included several Balanescu Quartet pieces in his recent much-lauded Pina 3D. In late 2017 Alexander wrote the music for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s production of The Secret Theatre, directed by Matthew Dunster, and his brilliant score for Anders Lustgarten’s Elizabethan espionage thriller has been described as “Hitchcockesque”.
Other screen credits include the Canal Plus comedy thriller Le Poulpe, directed by Guillaume Nicloux; Il Patigiano Johnny, directed by Guido Chiesa for Rome’s Fandango Films; Renny Barlett’s Eisenstein for the Canadian Amérique Film Company; more than 20 animations mostly written and directed by British multi-award winner Phil Mulloy; the Hungarian film Tablo for director Gabor Dettre; and How I Celebrated The End of the World, directed by Catalin Mitulescu for Strada Films/Les Films Pelléas, for which he won Romania’s GOPO award for Best Film Soundtrack.
A child prodigy violinist, he and his family left communist Romania in 1969 for Israel where he continued his studies before going on to London’s Trinity College of Music. He then went to The Julliard in New York to complete his studies. In 1979 he became the leader of the Michael Nyman Ensemble for 15 years and he was also a member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble. He later joined the Arditti Quartet before establishing the Balanescu Quartet, now one of the contemporary classical world’s leading ensembles with a worldwide cult following – hence Google’s outstanding number of links. The Quartet currently has more than a dozen albums on release in various countries and regularly tours in four continents. As well he is featured in collaborations with, among others The Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Goldfrapp, Spiritualized and Carla Bley.
Alexander’s ballet scores have been performed by The Royal Ballet, The American Ballet Theatre, Northern Ballet, Hungarian National Ballet, Compagnia La Scala, Montreal Ballet, The Suzy Block Company and many others. 2007 saw the premiere, of his full-length ballet Lorenzaccio, choreographed by Jochen Ulrich for Landestheater, Linz and performed by the Bruckner Orchestra.
In April 2015 he composed the music for Love’s Sacrifice directed by Matthew Dunster for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford. Earlier he was commissioned by Opera North to set a Shakespeare sonnet as part of the presentation of Shakespeare’s complete works by the RSC. He has also written for productions at Theatre de la Place, Liege, Belgrade State Theatre, Cabaret Dromesko, Rennes.
His increasingly strong links with his Romanian roots have been the catalyst for collaboration with the extraordinary singer and actress Ada Milea, resulting in the pieces The Island and God’s Playground. His solo recital programmes, most recently in London, Naples, Linz, Budapest, Gyor, Szgel and Bucharest include music by Nyman, Sciarrino, Reijch, Glass, in addition to his own works. He performed Korngold’s violin concerto at the South Bank’s Meltdown Festival in London with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alex’s video intro