Professor Smalley was a senior honorary research fellow at the School of Music, University of Western Australia in Perth and honorary research associate at the University of Sydney.
Roger Smalley was born in Swinton, Lancashire, England. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Antony Hopkins (piano), Peter Racine Fricker and John White (both composition) (Mark 2001).
In addition, he studied with Alexander Goehr at Morley College, and attended Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Cologne Course for New Music in 1965–66, as well as Pierre Boulez’s Darmstadt summer course in 1965 (Mark 2001).
The group specialised in works involving improvisation and live electronics. He moved to Australia in the early 1970s.
As a young composer, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for his orchestral work Gloria Tibi Trinitas.
His first Piano Concerto, a BBC commission for European Music Year (1985), was the recommended work in the annual UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in 1987, the first time an American ABC entry succeeded to first place.
Smalley’s compositions are performed and broadcast worldwide.
Commissions include the BBC, ABC Television, West German Radio, Perth International Arts Festival, London Sinfonietta, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, Grainger Quartet, Fires of London, Flederman, Nova Ensemble, Seymour Group and Australia Ensemble.
His works and performances feature on over 20 commercially released CDs, among them ABC Classics, Tall Poppies and Melba Recordings.
In addition to his work as a composer, Smalley was recognised as a distinguished pianist, especially noted for his performance of contemporary and 18th–19th century works. Early in his career he was a prizewinner in the Gaudeamus Competition for interpreters of contemporary music (1966) and won the Harriet Cohen Award for contemporary music performance in 1968.
In 1969 Smalley and Tim Souster formed the acclaimed live-electronic group Intermodulation.
Over the next six years Intermodulation toured widely in the UK, West Germany, Poland, France and Iran, their repertoire including works by Souster and Smalley, but also works of Cornelius Cardew, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Christian Wolff and others.
His recordings include a CD of piano music by Australian composers and another of song cycles by Schumann.
Smalley sometimes quoted melodies by other composers in his works. The String Quartet No. 2 (2000) and the Piano Quintet (2003) incorporate melodies from mazurkas by Frédéric Chopin. Smalley died at the age of 72 on 18 August 2015.