top of page

Professor Nigel Osborne, MBE

Professor Nigel Osborne, MBE

Nigel Osborne, MBE BA BMus (Oxon) DLitt FRCM FEIS FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Music and Human Sciences at the University of Edinburgh is a composer, teacher and aid worker. His works have been performed around the world by major orchestras and opera houses, such as the Vienna Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House. He has received, among many awards, the Netherlands Gaudeamus Prize, the Opera Prize of the Radio Suisse Romande and Ville de Geneve and the Koussevitzky Award of the Library of Congress Washington. He also works in popular music, theatre and film and has a special interest in Arabic, Indian and Chinese music.

He studied composition at Oxford with Egon Wellesz, the first pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, and in Warsaw with Witold Rudzinski, and worked in major studios such as the Polish Radio Experimental Studio and at IRCAM in Paris. He has worked as a sailor, school teacher, health worker, aid worker and university teacher, including a lectureship and Special Professorship at Nottingham University (1978-1987), the Reid Chair at Edinburgh University (1989-2012), a guest Senior Professorship (C4) at the University of Hannover (1996-98) and Head of Faculty for the Vienna-Prague-Budapest Summer Academy (ISA) (2007-2014). He is currently Professor Emeritus at Edinburgh University, Visiting Professor in the Drama Faculty of Rijeka University, Consultant to the Chinese Music Institute, Peking University, and has worked as visiting lecturer and examiner in a wide range of universities, ranging from Harvard, UCLA and CalArts to Oxford, the Sorbonne and Bologna.

As a teacher, he has worked at all levels of learning, from nursery education to postdoctoral supervision, and continues to work in special education development in places as diverse as Scotland, Sweden, Croatia and India. He was awarded both the Queen’s Prize and Music Industry Prize for innovation in education, and was recently elected Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.

He has pioneered methods of using music and the creative arts to support children who are victims of conflict. This approach was developed during the war in Bosnia- Herzegovina (1992-95), and since then the work has been implemented widely in the Balkan region, the Caucasus (Chechnya), the Middle East (Palestine, Syria and Lebanon), East Africa and South East Asia. He was also awarded the Freedom Prize of the Peace Institute, Sarajevo, for his work for Bosnian children during the siege of the city.

He has worked actively in many human rights initiatives, including the Committee for the Defence of the Workers in Poland (1970-89), Citizens’ Forum (with Vaclav Havel) in former Czechoslovakia (1987- 89), for Syrian refugee support organisations and directly for the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the genocide.

He is an advisor to Oliver Sachs’ Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Hospital, The Bronx, NYC, and in 2012-14 served as Co-Chair of the Global Agenda Committee for Arts in Society for the World Economic Forum.

In recent months he has been working on an opera/ film with Ulysses Theatre and Paradiso Films on the Cambridge spies, a musical/ ecological work for Khazanah, Kuala Lumpur, a cantata based on the experiences of refugees and on an orchestral version of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper, to mark the 50th anniversary of the issue of the album (June 2017).

Recent scientific and scholarly publications include: Osborne, N, 2017 The Identities of Sevda: from Graeco- Arabic medicine to music therapy in Handbook of Musical Identities, ed MacDonald, Hargreaves and Miell, OUP, Oxford and New York

Osborne, N. 2017. Love, Rhythm and Chronobiology. in Rhythms of Relating in Children’s Therapies Connecting Creatively with Vulnerable Children ed. Daniel and Trevarthen, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London and Philadelphia

Composer and Emeritus Professor, Reid School of Music, Edinburgh College of Art,

The University of Edinburgh,

United Kingdom


bottom of page