Hendrik Hofmeyr, who has been described as South Africa’s most performed classical composer, was born in Cape Town in 1957. After He matriculating as one of the top three candidates in the Cape Province, he enrolled for a Bachelor of Music (Musicology) degree at the SA College of Music (University of Cape Town) on an academic scholarship in 1976. He studied piano under Laura Searle, winning several prizes, and was awarded the UNISA Performer’s Licentiate with distinction in 1979. In the same year he received his degree cum laude, having won the class medal four years running.
After completing a Master of Music degree in piano performance at the University of Cape Town, he left for Italy on an overseas scholarship in 1981. He studied piano in Florence under Alessandro Specchi (1981-83), composition in Bologna under Ivan Vandor (1983-86), and conducting in Florence under Alessandro Pinzauti (1986-89), obtaining Italian State Diplomas in all three disciplines.
In 1987, he won the South African Opera Competition with The Fall of the House of Usher. When the opera was produced at the State Theatre in Pretoria the following year, he was awarded the annual Nederburg Prize for Opera. In the same year, he obtained first prize in the TrentoCinema – La colonna sonora International Competition in Trent, Italy, with a work for chamber orchestra, composed for a film by Wim Wenders.
Hofmeyr returned to South Africa in 1992 to take up a post as lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. In 1997 he won two major international competitions, the Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Competition (with Raptus for violin and orchestra) and the first edition of the Dimitris Mitropoulos Competition in Athens (with Byzantium for soprano and orchestra). The following year he returned to his alma mater, from which he obtained a Doctorate in Music in 1999, and where he currently holds the post of Professor and Head of Composition and Theory. In 2008 he was honoured with a Kanna award by the Kleinkaroo National Arts Festival. Hofmeyr’s Second Symphony – The Elements, performed in 2017 by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Conrad van Alphen in celebration of the composer’s sixtieth birthday, was honoured with a UCT Creative Works Award in 2018.
Hofmeyr oeuvre consists of some 200 works, of which more than half are commissions. These include a string quartet for the Hogarth Quartet (Britain), which received its London première at the Wigmore Hall in 1999, a two-piano concerto for British duo Nettle&Markham, a partita for double-bass, commissioned by the Vancouver Recital Society for DaXun Zhang, and Tu pauperum refugium, a polychoral motet, premièred at a UNESCO-sponsored gala concert in Vancouver in 2001 by the Tygerberg Children’s Choir together with choirs from Japan, Israel and Canada. The latter work, together with three other works by Hofmeyr, was published by Boosey and Hawkes (New York) in 2002. In 2008 he was commissioned, along with 17 composers from 17 other countries, to write a work for the Latvian national youth choir, Kamēr’s, World Sun Songs project.
Hofmeyr’s works have been featured on some 60 CDs. In 2002, the Distell Foundation for the Performing Arts released a CD featuring his Flute Concerto and Piano Concerto. A CD of his Sinfonia africana was released by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in 2005, and CDs featuring his Concerto for Flute, Violin and Strings and cantata Ainsi qu’on oit le cerf bruire were released in the USA in 2010. CDs of his chamber, piano, choral and solo vocal music are scheduled for release in the coming year. (Find out more on Wikipedia and listen to his work on soundcloud.)