"Part of the excitement for me of being a composer over the years has been the challenge of taking a traditionally not-for-profit hobby and turning it into a not-for-profit career."

From organs to orchestras, car horns to choirs, ballads to ballet, Philip Norman’s work as a composer spans the breadth of the performing arts.

Philip Norman was born in Christchurch and educated at Rathkeale College Masterton 1967-71 and University of Canterbury where he graduated with a BA (Music and English), MAHons (Musicology) 1977, and PhD (Musicology) 1984. He also trained at Christchurch Teachers College in 1977, graduating A+ in teaching practice, and holds an LMusTCL.

Since 1978 he has worked freelance as a professional composer and writer with additional work including musical direction, conducting and broadcasting. He was principal music reviewer for the Christchurch Press for much of the 1980s, co-founder and director of Nota Bene Publishing Co-operative from 1979 and was active through the 1980s as a committee member, secretary and president of Composers' Association of New Zealand. From 1991-95 he was musical director of the Christchurch School of Instrumental Music and in 1992 was composer in residence with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the only composer to have held a residency with that orchestra.

He has composed and arranged well over 200 pieces including Footrot Flats and Love Off The Shelf (stage musicals with book by Roger Hall and lyrics by A.K. Grant), Peter Pan (ballet with choreography by Russell Kerr), Plumsong (choir), The Juggler (orchestra) and A Christmas Carol (opera), all numbering amongst the most performed works by a New Zealand composer in their fields. As a writer, he compiled three editions of the Bibliography of New Zealand Compositions'which in 1992 formed the beginnings of the SOUNZ computer database of New Zealand composers and compositions.

His recent biography of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn won the biography category in the 2007 Montana Book Awards. The biography has been described as "a ground-breaking achievement for New Zealand Music" [William Dart NZ Herald], "a book to get ecstatic over" [Anne Kennedy, Landfall], and as "signalling a new level of maturity in New Zealand musicological studies". [Martin Lodge Bulletin of New Zealand Studies, London].

Philip was the 2007 Ursula Bethell Creative Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury English Department and the recipient of a 2008 CLL Writer's Award, assisting him to continue work on a general history of New Zealand composition.

He lives in Christchurch with his wife Alison, their four children (two still at home) and an array of pets.


In 2011 Philip compiled and edited the publication of John Ritchie at Ninety.  Spitfire pilot, composer, conductor, Catholic convert, professor, patron, president of an international music society and father of five: John Ritchie's colourful and varied life is beautifully encapsulated in this publication Available at $35 plus $5 postage and packaging From select bookstores or by mail order from Nota Bene Music PO Box 29-125 Christchurch 8540



An extract from an article written in May 2010 by Philip Norman for Rock Runner, the magazine of Rathkeale College, Masterton, where he attended school 1967-1971.
Jack Body (Laureate) writes for the New Zealand Listener that "Philip Norman’s new biography is an essential read for anyone interested in New Zealand’s cultural development."


Original score by NZ composer Philip Norman, played at the New Zealand Chamber music regional finals in Christchurch June 2011.


Peter Pan, Act 2 11 Entracte and Pirates Dance
Born Christchurch, New Zealand
Graduated  BA (Music and English), University of Canterbury 
MAHons (Musicology), University of Canterbury ;Trained - Christchurch Teachers College
Began career as a freelance  professional composer and writer
PhD (Musicology) 
Musical Director, Christchurch School of Instrumental Music 
1 Composer in residence - Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
Ursula Bethell Creative Writer in Residence - University of Canterbury English Department;Montana Book Awards Biography winner for Douglas Lilburn
CLL Writer's Award to work on a general history of NZ composition
Recipient of an Arts Foundation Award for Patronage donation, awarded by Dame Adrienne Stewart
Compiled and edited the publication of John Ritchie at Ninety
Inaugural Lilburn Research Fello, National Library of NZ
Recipient of a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music and musical theatre