The English composer, Peter Billam, studied piano in Hammersmith, London; then attended Kingston Grammar School, and took up the guitar. Peter Billam was born in Hammersmith, London, on 18 August 1948. In 1966 he moved to South Kensington to study Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London University, graduating in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours). During this time he also pursued an interest in the guitar, playing folk guitar professionally around the folk clubs of London.
Following graduation, Peter Billam concentrated on playing the electric guitar professionally. Between 1970 and 1973 he toured England and Holland with Continuum, issued 2 LP’s on RCA Records and played in numerous recording sessions. In London he was involved in the avant-garde music scene with Malcolm Fox, Jonathan Lloyd, Simon Bainbridge, Howard Davidson, Oliver Knussen and others. His interests also extended to the free-jazz scene, playing with several ensembles and recording an LP with Bob Downes and Harry Miller.
Leaving London in 1974 to work as an engineer in Switzerland, Peter Billam undertook classical guitar studies with Michel Rutscho at the Conservatorium of Bienne, and also began serious compositional activity, studying with Daniel Andres. Compositions from this time include Divisions on an Italian Ground for flute and guitar, and Five Short Pieces for guitar.
From 1980-1981 Peter Billam worked as Musical Director of the Theatre Populaire Romand, composing all the music for their productions, rehearsing and training the actors, and acting. Between 1981 and 1983, he worked as record producer, recording LPs by William Nabore (piano), Steve Kanoff (clarinet), Catherine Collard (pianono), Kim Walker (bassoon), and also co-arranged, recorded, and re-mixed the first LP by Switzerland's premier new-wave group Film de Guerre.
In 1983 Peter Billam moved to Hobart, Tasmania, and lectured in composition and electronic music at the Conservatorium of Hobart. In 1985 he was engaged in teaching at Tasman District High School, in Nubeena, while also giving private tuition and becoming involved with a number of local ensembles. A large body of compositions and numerous arrangements of folk tunes date from this time.
Peter Billam returned to Hobart in 1988 to work at the State Library of Tasmania, and was also active as a performer and as Musical Director of the Hobart Society of Recorder Players. Compositions from this time include Decision, for eight-voice choir, and A Suite of Curves, for trombone (or horn) and piano.
In 1994 Peter Billam founded PJB Computing and in 1996 developed muscript, a free music typesetting software application, which he continues to maintain and enhance. Recent compositions include Three Preludes (2003) for piano and Second Solo Suite (2003) for flute.