John Allan

John Allan is an Australian composer, resident of Melbourne and has been composing since 1987. In 1986 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts Degree at La Trobe University majoring in Music, concentrating on musicology and composition.

The music department at La Trobe was established by the Australian composer Keith Humble, who focused on developing skills in serial and 12 tone technique, no longer in vogue with some contemporary composers. However, John has great antipathy for serial music and was always at odds with his composition teachers at La Trobe. To circumvent serial technique, he would often break down twelve tone rows into a series of 3 or 4 note groups that he reconfigured as various types of triads and seventh chords.

In his second and third year of studies he developed a good knowledge of tonal harmony and counterpoint. He is basically self-taught as a composer having developed his own style, which is tonal, with his compositions often employing modal melodies harmonized with quartal or jazz influenced chords.


After graduating from La Trobe in 1992 with an honours degree he enrolled at Monash University for a Masters’ of Arts Degree. The topic for his thesis was Die tote Stadt an opera by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He finished his masters in 2000.

John’s approach to composing a new piece, is to decide the form and architecture first and then once the basic structure is set he will fill in the detail. 
He prefers orchestral composition because of the infinite number of timbral possibilities and his predilection for writing for large forces.  He has five orchestral pieces less than 10 minutes in duration, three up to fifteen minutes, a concertino for five solo percussionists and orchestra entitled Transformations, and three full length symphonies.

Compositions by John Allan appear on

Mirabile in Prague

Composer, Arranger

Australian composer John Allan has orchestrated a collection of his own original compositions. This CD also includes his orchestrations of piano pieces by Debussy and Brahms. David Kram conducts members of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.