Stevenson, Ronald

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Stevenson, Ronald

Stevenson, Ronald, English pianist and composer; b. Blackburn, Lancashire, March 6, 1928. He studied piano as a child, and began to compose at 14. He took courses in composition and piano at the Royal Manchester Coll. of Music (1945–48), and later studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome on an Italian government scholarship (1955). He was appointed lecturer at the Univ. of Edinburgh (in the Extra-Mural Dept.) in 1962. He was on the music staff at the Univ. of Cape Town (South Africa) from 1963 to 1965. A fervent intellectual, he contributed cultured articles to the Listener and other publications, and engaged in a thoroughgoing bio-musical tome on Busoni, with whose art he felt a particular kinship. He pubi, a book, Western Music: An Introduction (London, 1971). Stevenson adheres to neo-Baroque polyphony; a formidable exemplar is his Passacaglia on DSCH for Piano, a Brobding-nagian set of variations in 3 continuous sections, 80 minutes long, derived from the initial D of the first name and the first 3 letters of the last name of Dmitri Shostakovich, in German notation, first performed by Stevenson himself in Cape Town, Dec. 10, 1963. Other works include: Anger Dance for Guitar (1965); Triptych, on themes from Busoni’s opera Doktor Faust, for Piano and Orch. (Piano Concerto No. 1; Edinburgh, Jan. 6, 1966, composer soloist); Scots Dance Toccata for Orch. (Glasgow, July 4, 1970); Peter Grimes Fantasy for Piano, on themes from Britten’s opera (1971); Duo-Sonata for Harp and Piano (1971); Piano Concerto No. 2 (1972); Ben Dorain, choral sym. (1973); Violin Concerto, The Gypsy (1973); Corroborée for Grainger for Piano and Wind Band (1987); St. Mary’s May Songs for Soprano and Strings (1988); Voces Vagabundae for String Quartet (1990); Cello Concerto (1995); numerous settings for voice and piano and for chorus of Scottish folk songs; transcriptions of works of Purcell, Bach, Chopin, Berlioz, Busoni, Paderewski, Delius, Britten, Berg, Pizzetti, Grainger, and many others.


M. MacDonald, R. S.: A Musical Biography (Edinburgh, 1989).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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