Samuel has achieved recognition as a composer at once ’approachable and uncompromising’ (Kim Ashton, Independent) with an ‘excellent sense of pacing and melodic interest’ (Tom Sutcliffe, Opera Now). Insistent that progressive music must retain the ability to be lyrical, he has found admirers among fellow composers and other musicians while also appealing to a wider audience. His first opera, David and Goliath, was described as ‘stunning… strong and exciting new opera’ (see review). The final scene of David and Goliath was performed in the Linbury Studio of the Royal Opera House as part of their showcase for young composers, “Exposure”, in February 2012 (see review).
Samuel’s children’s opera Zwerg Nase, commissioned by the Hamburg Staatsoper and now published by Boosey & Hawkes, was premiered in February 2014 and performed a further 16 times to audiences of young children, families and school classes. The entire run was sold out within a day of tickets becoming available and reviewers commented on the enthusiasm of performers and public for the complex but judiciously pitched music, ‘which captivates with its imaginativeness’ (Hamburger Morgenpost). In 2022, it will be featured in the special edition Nota Bene, among other titles for young people.
Samuel’s next children’s opera, Rocke und die Zaubertrompete, published by Bärenreiter/Alkor, was commissioned by the Heidenheimer Festspiele and was premiered in June 2016. It tells the story of a young boy and his adventures with a magic trumpet he discovers while singing the children’s chorus solo line in a production of La Bohème, which provides the musical starting-point for some of the material in the piece.
He is currently writing a chamber work jointly commissioned by Chamber Music Box and the Sydney-based Omega Ensemble. The piece will be a trio for clarinet, cello and piano and is conceived as a partner piece to the Brahms trio for the same combination.
Samuel first studied composition with Adam Gorb and Matthew Taylor on a scholarship to the Junior Royal Academy of Music. He also attended the National Youth Orchestra composers’ course, receiving tuition from Paul Patterson and Diana Burrell, and participated in a composition masterclass at University College School with Thomas Adès. His first commission came at the age of 14 when Boosey & Hawkes published their Easy 20th-Century Piano Collection.
While reading music at New College, Oxford, Samuel’s music was performed widely around the university, with several works performed by the New College Choir under Edward Higginbottom, and his choral piece, If I Speak, was included in a BBC Singers workshop. Shortly afterwards he received the commission for David and Goliath for New Chamber Opera (premiered February 2007, New College Chapel, Oxford; second production March 2008, Queens’ College Chapel, Cambridge). He also wrote and performed two jazz piano pieces for A Mighty Heart, a Paramount Vantage film (2007) starring Angelina Jolie.
His current work Fish forward premiered at the Staatstheater Mainz on 4 March 2022. The opera is aimed particularly at a young audience and addresses current issues such as fishing and sustainability. The music is wide-ranged, sometimes operatic, sometimes jazzy, sometimes modern.