Michael Nyman published his influential study Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond in 1974, (reprinted 1999), and subsequently has been making his own significant contribution to that 'beyond'. Work as a musicologist, editing Purcell and Handel, and collecting folk music in Romania, was followed by writing criticism for several journals, including The Spectator, where, in a 1968 review of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Digest, he became the first to apply the word 'minimalism' to music. His route back to composition began to emerge in the late 1960Ős and he has been prolific ever since.
Nyman has written for a wide variety of ensembles, including symphony orchestra, a cappella chorus, string quartet and his own Michael Nyman Band. He has written several stage works, notably The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Facing Goya and Man and Boy: Dada, an opera based on the Dada artist Kurt Schwitters, with a libretto by Michael Hastings.
His music is best known through his film scores, most famously for Peter Greenaway, with whom he collaborated on eleven movies between 1976 and 1991, as well as for Jane Campion (The Piano, 1992), Neil Jordan (The End of the Affair, 1999) and Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, 1999 and The Claim, 2000). He also collaborated with Damon Albarn on the music for Antonia Bird's Ravenous (1998).
Nyman has provided music for a fashion show (Yamamoto Perpetuo for designer Yohji Yamamoto, (1993), the opening of a high-speed rail link (MGV, 1993) and a computer game (Enemy Zero, 1996). The music/multi-video event The Commissar Vanishes, based on David King's book about Stalinist manipulation of photographic documents, received its first performance in London in December 1999, and in 2002 the Michael Nyman Band performed the soundtrack to Dziga VertovŐs 1929 classic black and white film Man With a Movie Camera for the first time in the UK. Forthcoming projects include The Libertine - a film directed by Laurence Dunmore, starring Johnny Depp.