George Nicholson was born in County Durham in 1949 and studied at the University of York with David Blake and Bernard Rands, receiving his doctorate in 1979. For ten years he pursued a freelance career in London before being appointed Lecturer in Music and Director of Composition at Keele University in 1988. In 1996 he took up the post of Senior Lecturer at Sheffield University, where he is now Professor in Composition.
His music has been performed by the London Sinfonietta, BBC Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and many other ensembles and orchestras. He has received several BBC commissions, including the Cello Concerto premiered by Moray Welsh. Nicholson's Flute Concerto was commissioned by James Galway. His work has been recorded on the record labels Metier, Oboe Classics, Cuillin Sound, Unknown Public and the British Music Label.
As pianist he is a member of the chamber groups Triple Echo and Nomos, and also gives regular recitals with his wife, the soprano Jane Ginsborg, as well as clarinettist Philip Edwards and trombonist John Kenny. He is also very active as a conductor of classical and contemporary music. Since 2006 George Nicholson has served as a member of the Concert Executive Committee of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.