Peter Klatzow was born in Springs, South Africa, in 1945.
In 1964 he attended the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Bernard Stevens, piano with Kathleen Long, and orchestration with Gordon Jacob. In that year he won several of the College composition prizes as well as the Royal Philharmonic prize for composition, which was open to any Commonwealth composer under 30. He spent the following years in Italy and Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger.
Since returning to South Africa in 1966, he has worked at the SABC in Johannesburg as a music producer, and in 1973 was appointed to the University of Cape Town, where he was Director of the College of Music and Professor in Composition.
In 1986 he was elected to the rank of Fellow of the University of Cape Town for “having performed original distinguished academic work of such quality as to merit special recognition.”
He was awarded his DMus for published work in Composition in 1999, and the Cape Tercentenary Foundation’s Molteno Gold medal for lifetime achievement in Music in 2002.
One of the few South African composers to achieve international recognition, Peter Klatzow has won prizes in Spain, the United Kingdom and Toronto, and his works have been performed in various European centres and in the United States. In South Africa he was awarded the prestigious Helgard Steyn prize for his piano suite From the Poets.
His major works include a full length ballet on Hamlet for which he was given a special Nederburg award for the music, scores for ballets on Drie Diere and Vier Gebede, and Concertos for various solo instruments; piano, clarinet, organ, marimba, and a double Concerto for flute and marimba which was performed at Yale University, USA. His Prayers and Dances of Praise from Africa was introduced at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, UK on 24 August 1996.
Recent commissions include The World of Paul Klee (III), composed for the opening of the new Paul Klee Centre in Berne, Switzerland, a celebratory Te Deum for choir, organ and orchestra, commissioned for a special service celebrating the 100th anniversary of St George's Cathedral, Cape Town and Towards the Light, a work for double choir, marimba and organ commissioned for the opening of the new Peabody concert hall (USA) in April 2004. He was also commissioned by the University of Cape Town to provide a short (20 minute) opera for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the SACM. He was also commissioned by SAMRO to compose a setting of Thabo Mbeki’s speech “I am an African” for use in the international vocal scholarship competition in September 2011. That same year year he also attended a major festival of his marimba works in Tokyo, where he also lectured at the Tokyo Music School and give master classes on his music.
His discography includes recordings of his piano music, the Mass for Choir, Horn, Marimba and Strings, String Quartet, Chamber Concerto for 7, Piano Concerto, From the Poets, an RCA issue of Return of the Moon with the King’s Singers and Evelyn Glennie, and a CD of his choral music made by the international Herald company entitled Towards the Light – the choral music of Peter Klatzow. His Marimba concerto has been reissued in a new recording made by Markus Leoson and issued by the Swedish label NOSAG in 2006. His CD entitled Myths, Magic and Marimbas – the music of Peter Klatzow was also issued in July 2006. He is now retired from the University of Cape Town, where he remains and is a Professor Emeritus. In 2011 the SA Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns awarded him the Huberte Rupert music prize for his lifetime work.
Shortly after these performances Peter attended a major international event Peter Klatzow in the City which was held for a week in Rotterdam, and featured his music for marimba. There were three performances of his concerto for flute, marimba and strings with Tatiana Koleva and Eleonore Palmeijr and they premiered his new work Night Sky with Illuminations which was commissioned by the Eduard von Beinum Foundation in Rotterdam.
In 2014 Peter Klatzow was once again awarded the Helgard Steyn prize (now worth R520000) for his work Lightscapes which was commissioned for the World Marimba Festival in Stuttgart in 2012. He was also appointed Composer in Residence for the 2015 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.