Stephen Oliver (composer)

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Stephen Michael Harding Oliver (10 March 1950 – 29 April 1992) was an English composer, best known for his operas.

Born in Chester, Oliver was educated at St Paul's Cathedral, Ardingly College and at Worcester College, Oxford, where he read music under Kenneth Leighton and Robert Sherlaw Johnson. His first opera, The Duchess of Malfi (1971), was staged while he was still at Oxford. Later works include incidental music for the Royal Shakespeare Company (including The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby). a musical, Blondel (1983; with Tim Rice), and over forty operas, including Tom Jones (1975), Beauty and the Beast (1984), Lady Jane (1986) and Timon of Athens (1991). Oliver also wrote music for television, including several of the BBC's Shakespeare productions (Timon among those), and some chamber and instrumental music. He was a good friend of Simon Callow who commissioned the piece Ricercare No4 for Cantabile.

He also composed the score for the thirteen-hour radio dramatization of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1981. The work combined a main theme with many sub-themes, all composed within the English pastoral tradition.

Oliver was a frequent guest on BBC Radio 4's light discussion programme Stop The Week. He died of AIDS-related complications in London.

In 2006, Oliver's archive of original scores and papers was presented to the British Library by his family.

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