Martin Watt

Martin Watt was born in Standerton in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa in 1970. He graduated from the North-West University in Potchefstroom with the degrees Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance) in 1991 and Bachelor of Music Honours (Composition) 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 Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Foundation assisted him to continue 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 by György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Colin Davis. Here he received the Diploma of Advanced Studies in Composition and won the prestigious Charles Lucas Prize. As a composer he made his European debut at the British Music Information Centre and had a number of his works recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio.

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 theory. 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 and history of music. In 2004 he accepted a senior lectureship in the School of Music and Conservatoire at the North-West University in Potchefstroom where he taught 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 at the University of Cape Town. In 2013 he was elected as member of the South African Academy of Science and Art (MAkadSA) and in 2014 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in Britain (FRSA) and also obtained a Fellowship in Composition from the Trinity College of Music in London (FTCL). 

Watt has composed over 60 works in all genres, many of them commissioned by prominent international 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. He is also an active musicologist and has read papers at various national and international conferences. 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 is a Member of the South African Academy for Science and Art (MAkadSa) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).