Philip Grange studied both privately and at the Dartington Summer School of Music with Peter Maxwell Davies between 1975 and 1981, and also with David Blake at York University between 1976 and 1983. Since then he has held the posts of Fellow in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge (1985-1987) and Northern Arts Composer Fellow at Durham University, and lectured at Exeter University between 1989 and 2000. He is currently Professor of Composition at Manchester University, a post he has held since 2001.
His first published pieces date from the late 1970s and include Cimmerian Nocturne (1979), which was commissioned by the Fires ofLondon and performed by them a number of times under their director Peter Maxwell Davies, including at the 1983 Proms. The work has also received numerous national and international performances by other ensembles. Other early works include The Kingdom of Bones for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, (1983 Huddersfield Festival commission), Variations (The Fires of London commission featured at the 1988 International Rostrum of Composers in Paris) and Concerto for Orchestra: Labyrinthine Images (1988), a St Magnus Festival commission for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
During the early 1990's Grange completed two BBC commissions, Focus and Fade for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who gave the premiere at the Royal Festival Hall in 1992 conducted by Andrew Davies, and Lowry Dreamscape, which was premiered at the 1993 BBC Festival of Brass by the Sun Life Brass Band conducted by Roy Newsome. Other works from this period include Piano Polyptich (premiered by Stephen Pruslin at the 1993 Aldeburgh Festival) and Bacchus Bagatelles for wind quintet.
Later in the 1990s Grange completed Des fins sont des commencements (extensively toured by both commissioning ensemble Gemini and other international ensembles), and In Spectre Search (New England Conservatory Extension Division commission). The Piano Trio: Homage to Chagall (1995) has been nationally toured by its commissioners, the Chagall Piano Trio, including London performances in 1998 at the Wigmore Hall and at the Royal Academy of Art as part of the Chagall: Love and the Stage exhibition. A Puzzle of Shadows (1997), another Gemini commission, has received similar exposure.
Since 2000 Grange has completed a number of major works, including a Clarinet Concerto for the RNCM Wind Band and soloist Alan Hacker, Lament of the Bow for the Contemporary Chamber Orchestra of Taipei, Sky-Maze with Song Shards and Daedalus's Lament for Okeanos, Duel Movement for the Lindsay String Quartet, a large-scale work for the Kreutzer Quartet and Eclipsing for Orchestra. The latter was written to a commission from the BBC and premiered by the BBC Philharmonic under Vassily Sanaisky in January 2005. In 2009 the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain gave the world première performance of Cloud Atlas, based on the novel by David Mitchell, at the Cheltenham Music Festival. A commission for the Danel String Quartet, Ghosts of Great Violence, was completed in 2012 and received its première as part of the North West Composers’ Festival in Manchester that same year.
A CD on the Black Box label was released in 2000 and comprised recordings of Des fins sont des commencements, On This Bleak Hut, As It Was, In Spectre Search, A Puzzle of Shadow and The Dark Labyrinth. Entitled Dark Labyrinths, the works were performed by Gemini with soloists Nick Sears, Alison Wells and Tim Gill. Other recent CD recordings include his Piano Trio: Homage to Chagall on the Campion label (Cameo 2053), Darkness Visible on the Metier label (MSV CD92083)- (another single-composer CD with Gemini which features Cimmerian Nocturne, Variations and Lament of the Bow), and Zeitgeist on the Campion label (Cameo 2061), which includes The Kingdom of Bones and Diptych. A CD featuring Cloud Atlas and Bacchus Bagatelles was released on the Prima Facie label in 2013.