Center was born in Aberdeen where he studied piano under Julian Rosetti and organ under Willan Swainson. In 1943 he moved to Huntly, Aberdeenshire as music master of Huntly Gordon School for a period of six years, before turning to private teaching and composition. He remained in Huntly for the rest of his life.
From 1944 onwards, his works were broadcast by the BBC, particularly in their Modern Scottish Composers series. He performed many of his song settings with his wife, the soprano Evelyn Center (Morrison), and also gave piano recitals. His symphonic poem The Coming of Cuchulain was given by the Scottish Orchestra under Warwick Braithwaite.
A revival of interest in Center's works in the late 1970s led to a piano recital in the Mitchell Hall of Marischal College, Aberdeen, on 14 October 1977 and an orchestral concert in King's College Chapel, Old Aberdeen on 10 March 1978. In May 1979, Thurso Choral Society performed the Contata and the Scottish Baroque Ensemble played Lacrimae in Aberdeen. In Bogotá, Colombia, Center's Requiem Mass was sung nine times between August and December and, in November, a Scottish Festival celebrated Center in ten concerts and recitals. In 1980, Ronald Stevenson played the Piano Sonata in Leeds.
Orchestral and strings
- Symphony No. 1
- The Coming of Cuchulain
- String Quartet No. 1
- String Quartet No. 2
- String Quartet No. 3
- Violin Sonata
- Suite for solo violoncello
- Dance Rustique for violoncello and piano
- Duo for violin and violoncello (also violin and bassoon, oboe and violoncello, oboe and bassoon)
- Little Canon for violin and violoncello
- Ronald Center: Instrumental and Chamber Music, Vol. I: Music for Solo Piano Piano Sonata, 6 Bagatelles, and world premiere recordings of Pantomime, Andante, Sarabande, Air, Larghetto, Sonatine, Hommage, Three Etudes, Impromptu,Three Movements for Piano. Christopher Guild, piano. TOCC0179. Release date: 2 September 2013.
- Center of Huntly String Quartet No. 2, Violin Sonata, Piano Sonata. Emily White and the Isla Quartet. Deveron Arts CD 8 80992 14514 5
- "Ronald Center". Bardic Edition. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- Derek M Bylyth. 'Ronald Center (1913-1973): An Introduction', in British Music (British Music Society), Volume 2 (1980)
- Reid-Baxter, James (1981), The Coronach, the Reel and the Sea-Grey Granite: The Music of Ronald Center (1913 - 1973), in Bold, Christine (Ed.), Cencrastus, No. 5, Summer 1981, pp. 34 & 35.
- "Ronald Center: Instrumental and Chamber Music, Volume One | Recordings | Toccata Music Group | Toccata Classics | Toccata Press | Toccata Next". toccataclassics.com.