Graham Newcater was born in Johannesburg on the 3rd September, 1941 but had most of his education in Durban where the family moved to in 1948. There he ended his schooling by studying mechanical engineering at the Natal Technical College during which time he studied music privately, having clarinet lessons and postal lessons in composition with Arnold van Wyk who was at that time lecturer at the University of Cape Town. Returning to Johannesburg in 1958 Newcater worked in the motor industry and continued his music studies, this time having composition lessons with Gideon Fagan. In 1962 he won a scholarship issued by the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which took him to London for two years study at the Royal College of Music, studying composition under Peter Racine Fricker and conducting in his second year under Sir Adrian Boult. In 1965 Newcater was back in Johannesburg where he worked for a short time at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) but in 1966 returned to London where he won the Ralph Vaughan Williams grant for that year on the recommendation of Howard Ferguson, Robert Simpson and Humphrey Searle with whom he studied privately for six months on the strength of this grant. At the end of 1966 Newcater returned for the final time to Johannesburg where he again worked for a brief time at the SABC.

On the strength of the success in Johannesburg and elsewhere of his First Symphony (begun in London in 1964 and completed on his return) he was commissioned by the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) to compose the score for the ballet Raka based on the poem by N.P. van Wyk Louw. This ballet proved such a success that it was soon made into a film which was distributed worldwide by 20th Century Fox.

Apart from Raka, he has had other successful overseas performances, notably his First Symphony in Paris and Brussels and his Philharmonic Overture in Asunción and Montevideo. Newcater is a 12-tone composer and his most important works are:

  • First Symphony
  • Raka (Ballet)
  • Variations de Timbres (for orchestra)
  • Third Symphony

1st movement

  2nd movement  
  3rd movement  
  • String Quartet
  • Songs of the Inner Worlds (for soprano and orchestra)
  • Cape Chronicles
  • African Idylls (for string quartet)

Biographical information supplied by Graham Newcater, 2 November 2009



  • Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Commissioned by the Datsun-Nissan Corporation)
  • Concerto Grosso I, Johannesburg 1962 – London 1963 (First perf. RCM, London, 1964)
  • Concert Overture, London 1962-1963
  • Symphony No. 1, 1962-64 (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Anton Hartman; Johannesburg; 1965; Commissioned by the SABC, 1962-64)
  • Symphony No. 2, 1965 (Commissioned by SAMRO, 1966 for Republic Festival)
  • Variations de Timbres, 1967 (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Anton Hartman; Johannesburg; 1969; Commissioned by the SABC)
  • Notturno per Orchestra, 1968 (Commissioned by the SABC for the SABC Junior Symphony Orchestra)
  • Temple Music, 1971 (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Edgar Cree; Johannesburg; 1973; Commissioned by the SABC, 1971)
  • Rain Queen Concert Suite, 1972 (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Francesco Mander; Johannesburg; 10.09.74; Commissioned by the SABC, 1972)
  • Protea Symphonic March (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Edgar Cree; Johannesburg; 1979; Commissioned by the SABC, 1972)
  • Raka Concert Suite, 1973 (National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. David Tidboald; Johannesburg; 1982; Commissioned by the SABC, 1973)
  • Palindromic Structures for Piano and Orchestra (Commissioned by the SABC, 1977)
  • Symphony No. 3, 1978 (Winner of composition prize from Department of National Education; National Symphony Orchestra of the SABC, cond. Anton Hartman; Johannesburg; 30.01.81; (Commissioned by the SABC, 1978)
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, 1979 (Commissioned by SAMRO)
  • Philharmonic Overture, 1980 (Commissioned by Oude Libertas on behalf of NAPAC)
  • Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, 1982
  • Threnos, 1983 (Commissioned by the SABC, 1983)
  • Mosaics (Commissioned by the SABC, 1986 to mark Johannesburg Centenary & 50th Anniversary of SABC)
  • Natalia, Concert overture
  • Cape Chronicles, 1994 (for the 80th Anniversary of the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra; Commissioned by the Foundation for the Creative Arts)


  • Raka Ballet, based on a Poem by N.P. van Wyk Louw, 1967 (Commissioned by PACT)
  • Rain Queen (Ballet), 1970 (Commissioned by PACOFS, 1970)
  • Anatomy of a Dance, Ballet in four movements, 1973
  • What’s in a Name? Comic opera in 2 acts (Lyrics: Chris Martin; Dialogue: Composer)


  • Vier Kleine Orchesterlieder, 1978
  • Songs of the Inner Worlds, 1991 (Commissioned by Total SA)


  • Three Pieces, for violin and piano, 1963
  • Trio, for violin, horn and piano, 1982
  • String Quartet, 1984
  • African Idylls, for string quartet
  • Etude I, for horn and piano, 2012 (Commissioned by SAMRO - under embargo until 2016 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition)
  • Etude II, for horn and piano, 2012 (Commissioned by SAMRO - under embargo until 2016 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition)


  • Joseph and his Brothers = Josef en sy Broers: Incidental Music for a serialized Radio Drama, 1964 (Commissioned by the SABC, 1964)
  • Raka (Radiophonic drama for speaking voices, sound effects and music, in English and Afrikaans)


  • SWA TV Logo I, Fanfare
  • SWA TV Logo II, Fanfare
  • TV Logo, Fanfare, 1979


  • Fanfare for Israel, for brass, 1978


  • Joy To The World, Carol (C: G.F. Handel; A: Isaac Watts)
  • Czernyana III, Ballet (Based on works by Carl Czerny) 1966 (Commissioned by PACT)


  • Adagio for Orchestra, 1958
  • Concerto in E Minor, 1958
  • Michael Strogoff, Ballet Suite, 1960
  • Storm Music, Tone Poem for Orchestra, 1960
  • Arietta Con Variazioni Per Clavicembalo, 1964
  • Partita per Clavicembalo, 1964
  • Preludio e Doppio Fuga per Clavicembalo


  • Chorale Prelude on ‘Bly By My, Heer, Terwyl die Skemer Daal’, for organ, 1978


  • Toccata, for piano, 2012 (Commissioned by SAMRO Endowment for the National Arts for the 12th UNISA International Piano Competition)
  • From the Garden of Forever, for piano, 2011/2012
  • Sapphire Sonata, for piano, 2013

Copies of works by Graham Newcater can be obtained at SAMRO


Publications about Graham Newcater

Leonard, Olga. [2010]. Graham Newcater se Strykkwartet: 'n Analise. Mini thesis. University of Pretoria.
Levy, Michael. 1992. South African composers: No extravagant gestures: Graham Newcater, SAMRO's first overseas music scholar. SAMUS, 12: 133-136.
Rörich, Mary. 1984. Graham Newcater's orchestral works: Case studies in the analysis of twelve-tone music. DPhil dissertation. University of the Witwatersrand.
Rörich, Mary. 1987. Tonal procedures in Graham Newcater's Third symphony. SAMUS, 7: 17-34.
Rörich, Mary. 1987 Graham Newcater, in: Peter Klatzow (ed.). Composers in South Africa today. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.
Steyn, Amoré. 2009. Graham Newcater's 'Raka' in its literary, musical and socio-political context. Unpublished Masters Dissertation. University of Pretoria.
Van Schalkwyk, C. 1976. Tegniese aspekte van uitgesoekte werke van agt Suid-Afrikaanse komponiste [Technical aspects of selected works of eight South African composers]. Masters Dissertation. University of Pretoria.





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