Ben Crosland

Composer and sound designer

United Kingdom



Inspired by the beautiful countryside that surrounds his hometown of Worcester, England, Ben’s diverse musical influences are reflected in the subtle complexity of his piano compositions. Quiet nostalgia and understated optimism run concurrently through his work, resulting in a unique voice in the Modern Classical genre.

In November 2018, his first album “Songs from Rainbow Hill” was released by UK independent label, Bigo & Twigetti, with the score published by Editions Musica Ferrum.

Ben has also written 7 volumes of easy to intermediate piano pieces in various contemporary styles, many of which have been used by the UK’s principle examination boards.

More information about the composer can be found at his website:

Download or stream “Songs from Rainbow Hill”

To purchase the score:



What does music mean to you personally?

It means the opportunity to experience and communicate almost all facets of the human experience, as well as to conjure sensations that have never been felt before. Potentially, every time I am about to play or hear a piece of music, I am keenly aware of what is at stake - what am I about to experience? Exhilaration? Wonder? Devastation? Humour? Disappointment? Rage? Boredom? The urge to dance? Enlightenment? The range is phenomenal - it might mean absolutely nothing. But it could mean everything.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I wouldn’t agree entirely, no. I can see that it can be largely about that, but music has many forms and many uses - sometimes it is just background to our day. Sometimes it can be very academic. Sometimes it is a raw release of emotion that doesn’t need the imagination to help it along. I think these things are very much dependent on the ear of the beholder - the experience and appreciation of music is more about cultural resonance and the setting in which you hear it than anything else.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I honestly have no idea. The few jobs I had as a teenager were very short-lived. I was practically unemployable.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

I am very worried about the future, but not at all with regards to classical music, especially contemporary classical, which seems to be gaining a huge amount of interest.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I don’t know that the role it plays in our lives will change so much, but its prevalence is set to increase, I think - we now have ways to play almost any piece of music that has ever been recorded, anywhere we happen to be. I don’t think this will necessarily change what it means to us, as such, but the potential reach of any particular genre has increased exponentially. In previous generations, a lot of music was the prevail of only those who could afford it. I think the biggest challenge is that of over-saturation - modern technology means that pretty much anyone who wants to make and release music can do so. Whilst this is wonderful on one level - and I would most certainly not want these advances to be undone, or made less available - it does mean that there is an inevitable dilution of quality. The upside is that we might get to hear a lot of great music that would never have been released in the days when it had to get past the corporate filters of publishing houses and record labels.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

No, I think, in the context of my response to the previous question, that this is sadly not the case. I certainly think that the musician today ought to be more creative, but it would seem to be the case that they don’t need to be. I have to wonder if much of today’s audience is so overwhelmed with the complexities of modern living, not to mention the incredible stream of information we have to process to keep up with all that’s happening that they don’t have the emotional space to deal with more challenging music. Because that’s what creativity should be, ultimately - an opportunity to make something new and different - and different is always challenging to some degree. Having said that, it is entirely unfair to expect anyone to conform to another’s ideals when it comes to taste. People like what they like, and that has to be OK.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

This comes back to cultural resonance. Firstly, we, as musicians, do not have an automatic right to an audience - if you’re not playing music that others want to hear, it’s up to you to ask the tough questions as to why that might be. Certainly, however, a large part of attracting an audience is in the marketing and presentation - in all honesty, I find much of the culture surrounding concert etiquette in traditional classical concerts to be ridiculous and anachronistic. Who cares what you wear, so long as it’s not something that physically imposes on the experience of those sat near you? If you don’t want the audience to clap between movements - how about you tell them first? Why place this awful weight (and wait) of expectation on the audience to automatically know when and when not to applaud? The whole thing smacks of exclusivity, and this has always been the case. The so-called “lower” classes have always felt excluded from classical music, and to think that this was by accident would be naive, in the extreme. If audiences are dwindling as a result, then the micro-culture of classical music and musicians only has itself to blame.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Well, firstly, I really prefer to begin the creative process from inspiration, rather than by deliberate application of skill, if that makes sense? I have, so far, not relied on composition for the bulk of my income, which instead has come from teaching. This has afforded me the luxury of writing when inspired to do so, and not because I have a deadline to meet. Often, I will just sit and play without thinking too much, and simply listen for something - anything - new to fall out of the piano. I try my best to catch it if it does. Once I get the start of what I think is a good idea, it becomes like a puzzle to which the rest of the piece is the “solution”. I really don’t want my pieces to be boring, so I listen back to them dozens of times, listening out for anything that grates even slightly. By that, I mean anything that sounds too trite, predictable, or just unsatisfactory in some way. I like melody. I like a piece of music to have a story arc. Despite what I said earlier, I don’t want to challenge people too much - I want my music to be accessible to anyone - however, like any good story, or any decent joke, it’s all about the twists. My father was a musician, and he used to say “You can always tell you’re listening to a good composer when you think you know exactly what’s going to happen next, but what they actually do is not only different to what you expected - it’s much better.” This is a standard which I always try to live up to when I work, and I can only hope that I manage to succeed at some level.

It’s honestly very difficult for me to pick a favourite piece from my own work, as, like it is with my children, they mean as much to me in different ways, and I get on better with one or the other from day to day.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Start with Satie, particularly the Gnossiennes (all six of them, mind!). They are some of the most sublime music ever written, and the benchmark to which all neo-classical composers should aspire. Beyond that, all I can say is that, as with any of the major genres, it would be foolish to write any one of them off, when they encompass such diversity within themselves. Never feel pressured to like any particular work or composer over another - pay no attention to what the experts say you should or shouldn’t like. If you like what you hear, enjoy it for all its worth. If you don’t like what you hear, move on, try something else. Unless we’re talking about Satie - everyone should like Satie.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Absolutely! It would be entirely disingenuous of me to pretend that I didn’t want others to enjoy my music, and, without an audience, what would music even be? One could argue that it provides a vehicle to the individual for meditation and personal fulfilment, but without the audiences of the past, there would be no pianos, no orchestras, no electric guitars. The audience is the whole point. It provides validation, feedback, and perhaps most importantly, the fertile ground in which new inspiration can take root. Personally, I am motivated by the challenge of finding ways to express myself that resonate with as many people as possible, without compromising my artistic sensibilities.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I’m not sure exactly what direction I want to take from here. I have a burgeoning collection of synthesisers that I’m thinking I might try to integrate to some extent. We’ll see how that works out. I see everything I write as an experiment, regardless of whether the result would be classed as “experimental” or not, but I think it’s fair to say that anything I do with synths is going to be a lot more experimental than my solo piano works, not only in terms of the resulting sound, but also in terms of the creative process itself. Ultimately, however, I’ll just have to wait and see what comes out that’s worth keeping.