Life and career
Oliver was born in Chester, the son of Charlotte Hester (Girdlestone), a religious education adviser, and Osborne George Oliver, an electricity board official. His maternal great-grandfather was William Boyd Carpenter, a Bishop of Ripon and a court chaplain to Queen Victoria. Oliver was educated at St Paul's Cathedral School, 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) and Timon of Athens (1991). Oliver also wrote music for television, including several of the BBC's Shakespeare productions (Timon among those), the soundtrack to the 1986 film Lady Jane, and some chamber and instrumental music.
He was a good friend of Simon Callow who commissioned the piece Ricercare No. 4 for vocal quartet 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.
- Holden, Amanda; Blyth, Alan (1993), The Viking opera guide, Viking, ISBN 0-670-81292-7
- "Friendships in Constant Repair": perspectives on the life and work of Stephen Oliver. ISBN 978-1-84876-534-4
- Adam Pollock (10 March 1950). "Oliver, Stephen Michael Harding (1950-1992), composer : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - oi". Oxfordindex.oup.com. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Kozinn, Allan (7 May 1992). "Stephen Oliver, 42, a Composer Of Operas and Theater Music". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- Kamp, David (2 January 2014). "John Oliver Is Horrified by Massages and Is a "Committed Coward": What You Should Know About the Host of *Last Week Tonight*". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- Official Stephen Oliver website
- Stephen Oliver on IMDb
- Composer page at ChesterNovello.com
- BBC Shakespeare
- The Stephen Oliver Archive at the British Library
- Works by Stephen Oliver at Project Gutenberg
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