Ian Venables was born in Liverpool in 1955 and was educated at Liverpool Collegiate Grammar School. He studied music with Professor Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with Andrew Downes, John Mayer and John Joubert in Birmingham. His compositions encompass many genres, and in particular he has added significantly to the canon of English art song. Described as ‘...one of the finest song composers of his generation...’, he has written over 50 works in this genre, which includes his five song-cycles: Love’s Voice - Four Venetian Songs Op.22 (1995); Invite to Eternity Op.31 (1997) for tenor and string quartet; Songs of Eternity and Sorrow Op.36 (2004) for tenor, string quartet and piano; On the Wings of Love Op.38 (2006) for tenor, clarinet and piano and The Pine Boughs Past Music Op.39 (2009) for baritone and piano. Other songs for solo voice and piano include, Two Songs Op.28 (1997) and Six Songs Op.33 (1999) as well as ‘A Dramatic Scena’ for counter-tenor and piano – At the Court of the poisoned Rose Op.20 (1994).
His many chamber works include a Piano Quintet Op.27 (1995) - described by Roderic Dunnett in the Independent as ‘...lending a new late 20th century dimension to the English pastoral...’ and a String Quartet Op.32 (1998), as well as smaller pieces for solo instruments and piano. He has also written works for choir - Awake, awake, the world is young Op.34 - organ - Rhapsody Op.25 (1996), brass and solo piano. He is an acknowledged expert on the 19th century poet and literary critic John Addington Symonds, and apart from setting five of his poems for voice and piano he has contributed a significant essay to the book John Addington Symonds - Culture and the Demon Desire (Macmillan Press Ltd, 2000). He is President of The Arthur Bliss Society as well as being the current chairman of the Ivor Gurney Society. His continuing work on the music of Gurney has led to orchestrations of two of his songs (2003) - counterparts to the two that were orchestrated by Herbert Howells - and newly edited versions of Gurney’s War Elegy and Gloucestershire Rhapsody, with Philip Lancaster.
His music is published by Novello and Company Ltd.