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Turnage studied at the Royal College of Music and won all the major prizes. He became famous when he wrote an opera called Greek. It is typical of his musical style: quite lyrical but also very dramatic and aggressive. His music is often inspired by jazz. Other works include Kai, Rockaby, Blood on the Floor, Dispelling the Fears, Drowned Out and Three Screaming Popes. He has written music for the English National Opera, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.