Philipp Wachsmann studied violin with the international artist Isolde Menges, and music at Durham University, received scholarships to study violin and composition at Indiana University, Bloomington USA, and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1968/9 where he also attended courses in modern music given by Henri Pousseur, and, by Pierre Boulez in Basel. He subsequently lectured at Durham University 1969/70 and then moved to London to start a performing career.
He pioneered new sounds using the violin and electronics and can be heard on over 100 LPs/CDs on different labels including ECM, and plays worldwide. He performs with most of the musicians working in modern improvisation related music. Ensembles and recordings include the London Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, the late Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, and the Belgian pianist Fred van Hove. Recent ensembles are the Stellari String Quartet, The Imaginary String Trio but he often works as a soloist alone or with other groups. He regularly conducts his own pieces with the London Improvisation Orchestra. Compositions include ‘Three Draft Pistons’ for violin and electro-acoustic tape, a work for Chamber Orchestra. Performances include a tour with the video artist Kjell Bjorgeengen and musician Keith Rowe in the ‘Kill Your Timid Notion’ festival tour, with Ken Vandemark and Paul Lytton, and with the artist Sarah Eckel at the FMP Festival in Berlin.
He also works with film, dance and architecture. For many years he was Director of the Electronic Music Studio at Morley College and currently teaches courses in composition at the City Literary Institute.
He was much influenced by the music of Uganda heard since childhood and by discussions with his Father Klaus Wachsmann over the years, and by ethno-musicological thinking, though he has developed his own musical language as a performer and music making musician. Recently he delivered a now published paper on the “Changeability of Musical Experience – influences on my music making”.
Starting in 1972 he has given regular workshops in improvised music at various places and which have been a starting place for many of today’s performers.