Composer and pianist Jonathan Besser was brought up in and around New York city, where he studied music composition at the Mannes College of Music with David Loeb. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1974, and has since been an active and very visible part of the New Zealand music scene, performing regularly in festivals, touring extensively, and recording many albums across a range or musical styles, including projects with Besser and Bravura, the Besser Ensemble, Gimel, and the Zestniks.
In 1998 Jonathan was appointed Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. He was a finalist in the Lilburn competition and has had works performed by the NZSO, the Royal NZ Ballet, and Limbs. He has also worked with many leading filmmakers, theatre directors, and poets.
Jonathan has composed acoustic and electronic music in collaboration with leading writers, choreographers, musicians, artists, and film makers, and has written original music for many film, radio, stage, and television productions.
Turn was his debut release for Rattle in 2006, a semi-improvised collaboration with Nigel Gavin, Miranda Adams, Tatiana Lanchtchikova, and Peter Scott. It proved to be a very successful recording, and is regularly aired on RNZ Concert. He followed this with Campursari in 2011, a meditative and extremely beautiful album inspired by the dreamlike grace of the gamelan.
He currently lives in Auckland (NZ) where he regularly writes, records, and performs with a range of groups and collaborators.