Richard Stoker

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Richard Stoker
Born8 November 1938
Castleford, Yorkshire, England
Died24 March 2021 (age 82)
London, England
OccupationEnglish Composer

Richard Stoker (8 November 1938 – 24 March 2021[1][2][3]) was a British composer, writer, actor and artist.

There was a strong musical tradition in Stoker's family, and he showed an early aptitude, intrigued by the piano keyboard as soon as he was tall enough to reach it. He started playing the piano at the age of six, started to compose at the age of seven, and went to an uncle for piano lessons. At 15 he went to Huddersfield Technical College, studying with Harold Truscott and Winifred Smith.

After initial encouragement from Eric Fenby, Arthur Benjamin and Benjamin Britten, he entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1958 and studied under Lennox Berkeley.[4] He won several prizes at the RAM, culminating in the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1962, which took him to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger.[5] Returning to London in 1963 he was invited to teach at the RAM, and was a Professor of Composition there for over 20 years. He later became Hon Treasurer and a Founder member of the Royal Academy of Music Guild. He was a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (FRAM), and also an Associate of the Royal College of Music (ARCM).

An early success as a composer was with the orchestral overture Antic Hay (1961) which won the first Royal Amateur Orchestral Society Award. The Petite Suite of the same year won the first Eric Coates Memorial Prize. Other orchestral works include four numbered symphonies (spanning 1961-1991), a Little Symphony and a piano concerto (op.54, 1978). There are two operas: Johnson Preserv'd (1967)[6] and Thérèse Raquin (1975). His chamber and instrumental music includes three each of string quartets, piano trios and violin sonatas. Stoker also composed song cycles, choral works (such as the dramatic cantata Ecce homo, 1962) and music for the organ (Organ Symphony, op. 58, 1980).

Stoker declared the piano to be his favourite instrument, with the guitar a close second: he produced a number of pieces for both instruments. His style was modern but accessible, full of his optimistic, joie de vivre personality.[7][8]

He edited Composer magazine between 1969 and 1980, and wrote entries on eight musicians for the Oxford DNB: Sir Thomas Armstrong, Arthur Benjamin, Alan Bush, Janet Craxton, Eric Fenby, Anthony Milner, Robert Simpson and Harold Truscott. Sometimes referred to as a Renaissance Man, he was also a writer: two novels, short stories and poetry (Words without Music, 1970, and Portrait of a Town, 1974), three plays (unpublished) and an autobiography, Open Window – Open Door, 1985.[9] As an artist he exhibited some of his drawings and paintings.

In later years he enjoyed acting in films and TV - he appeared in over 100 productions, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Dark Shadows, Maleficent, Hercules (as body double for John Hurt), Last Christmas and MotherFatherSon.

Stoker's first marriage was to Jacqueline (née Trelfer) in 1962. They were divorced in 1985. He married his second wife, Gill (née Watson), in 1986.[3] He was a member of the Garrick Club for several years.


  1. ^ "Death of a British composer, 82". Slipped Disc. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Castleford-born composer Richard Stoker has died". 8 April 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b Stoker, Gill (14 May 2021). "Richard Stoker obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Lennox Berkeley: John France interviews Richard : MusicWeb(UK)". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  5. ^ Richard Stoker at International Who's Who in Popular Music
  6. ^ E.Brophy: 'Richard Stoker's Dr Johnson Opera', in Opera xviii (1967), p. 543-6
  7. ^ Richard Stoker: Chronological Catalogue of Works
  8. ^ Richard Townend. 'Stoker, Richard' in Grove Music Online (2001)
  9. ^ Stoker, Richard (1985). Open window - open door. London: Regency. ISBN 978-0-7212-0699-8. OCLC 13328651.

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