Watt, Martin


Martin Watt was born in Standerton in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. He graduated from the North-West University in Potchefstroom with the degrees Bachelor of Music in 1991 and Bachelor of Music Honours in 1992 (both with distinction). Thereafter he continued with his studies in composition with Peter Klatzow at the University of Cape Town where he obtained the Master of Music degree cum laude in 1993. Numerous national and international scholarships, such as the Priaulx Rainier Prize, SAMRO’s Overseas Scholarship for Composers, an International Scholarship from the Foundation for the Creative Arts and a grant from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust assisted him to further his studies with the renowned British composer Paul Patterson at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1994 to 1995. During his time at the Academy he also participated in masterclasses with Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez. He made his European debut as a composer at the British Music Information Centre in London and a number of his works were recorded for BBC Radio. The Academy awarded him the Diploma of Advanced Studies in Composition and he was the recipient of the prestigious Charles Lucas Prize.

Upon his return to South Africa, he became a part-time lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Pretoria lecturing in music theoretical subjects. Here he also obtained a Doctorate in Music in 1996. From 1998-2000 he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the same university, researching in historical musicology. From 2000-2003 he was lecturer in the Music Division of the School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where he taught music theory and analysis, history of music and general music knowledge. In 2004 he accepted a senior lectureship in the School of Music and Conservatoire at the North-West University in Potchefstroom where he taught music theory, composition and music technology. In 2004 he was the only South African member of a pan-African panel of experts who selected a new anthem for the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2007 he was a guest lecturer at the Utrecht Conservatoire in the Netherlands. From 2008 he is a senior lecturer in music analysis, composition and orchestration at the South African College of Music (SACM) at the University of Cape Town.


Watt has composed over 50 works in all genres, many of them commissioned by prominent organisations and performers. His music has been performed, broadcast and recorded in South Africa, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, The United Kingdom, Scandinavia, China, Thailand, Japan and the United States. Alexander Street Press and Musica Neo now publish a large number of his works online. In March 2013 his Violin Sonata was published in the overseas-accredited journal The International Journal for Contemporary Composition. In June this year his choral work O Sacrum Convivium was selected from more than 170 submissions to be performed at the 2013 Conference of the National Choral Collegiate at Charleston College, South Carolina in the United States. The work will be published in their “Choral Literature Series”. In May-June 2013 Watt occupied a composer’s residency at the Visby International Centre for Composers on the Isle of Gotland, Sweden. He is also an active musicologist and has read papers at various national and international conferences and he has published on a variety of topics related to South African music in peer-reviewed journals. He also regularly serves as book and CD reviewer for scholarly publications. He was recently nominated and elected as a member of the South African Academy for Science and Arts (L.Akad.SA). The Academy is a multidisciplinary organisation and members are elected by virtue of scientific, technological or cultural achievement and excellence in contribution to areas of research, education or art. Members must enjoy peer recognition and should have productively been involved in their respective disciplines.



work list






Music for the Rainbow People for chamber orchestra

Requiem for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Concerto for Orchestra

Four Mtshali Songs for tenor and chamber orchestra

Concerto for piano and orchestra





Images of a Summer Evening for flute, cello and piano

Three Dances for violin and piano

Tableaux for piano quintet

String Quartet no. I

Sonata no. I for violin and piano

Quintet for clarinet and strings

Trio for violin, cello and piano

Metamorphoses on an African Wedding Song for violin

Sonatina for treble recorder and piano

Perpetuum for flute and four African marimbas

Suite for violin and piano

Fantasia on SACM for cello and piano

Van Hunks and the Devil 

(for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, viola cello and narrator

on a text by philip de vos)

Sonata for solo piano

African Lullaby for solo piano

Sonata no. II for violin and piano

String Quartet no. II

Two Tableaux for  vibraphone and piano

Sonata for solo flute

Four Arie Antiche for voice and woodwind quintet

Four Nocturnes for piano

Three Sketches  for solo bassoon

Sounds of Visby for solo guitar

Elegy for solo clarinet

Solitude for solo oboe

Trio for oboe, viola and cello




Three Shakespeare Songs for tenor and piano

Seven Cloete Songs for soprano and piano

*Aves for mezzo-soprano, piano and African drum

*Vyf Liedere op gedigte van Eugéne Marais for tenor and piano

*Soetfontein for soprano, tenor, baritone and piano

*Kersliedjie for tenor and piano

*Lied en Lewe, cycle for soprano and piano

*Vier liefdesliedere op gedigte van Marlene van Niekerk for soprano and piano

Four Rilke Songs for baritone and piano




Three Arrangements of Afrikaans Folk Songs for mixed chorus

Ek soek ‘n huis for mixed chorus

*Anna for tenor and mixed chorus

*Three Motets for the Church Year for mixed chorus

*Johann Sebastian for mixed chorus

Simptome van Skade for mixed chorus

*Three Motets on texts from Jeremiah for mixed chorus

*Rea ko pele for mixed chorus, piano (four hands) and improvised percussion

*Die Aankondiging van die geboorte van Jesus for six part mixed chorus

*New Year Show for mixed chorus

Missa Baltica for eight-part chorus and four soloists


musical drama


Freedom, a popular opera in two acts 

*Tronkvoël, chamber opera (libretto in Afrikaans by Alwyn Roux)

Anyway – one man cabaret show comprising 14 original songs




Three Techno Tracks

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