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Christopher Steel

Born: 1938

Died: 1991

Nationality: British

Publisher: Novello & Co

Christopher Steel was born in 1938, and received his early education at Shrewsbury School. He developed his interest in music early in life, and began composing seriously while still in his mid-teens. In 1957 he entered the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included John Gardner and Denis Murdoch. He then continued his studies, with the aid of a scholarship, at the Hochschule für Musik, Munich, with Harold Genzmer - himself a pupil of Hindemith - in 1961.

His first mature compositions date from just before his German studies, and these early works - including the Sonatinas (for piano and clarinet) - display an elegance, grace and lightness, coupled with the technical assurance and sincerity which characterise all his works.

It was after his return from the continent in the early part of the 1960's that his most important compositions started to make their appearance, works in all musical forms and for all forces. He returned to his roots as music master at Cheltenham College in 1963, moving to Bradfield College in 1966. Here he became director of music from 1968 to 1981 apart from a year instructing at North Hennepin College, Minnesota. During the 1980s he devoted himself increasingly to composition, combined with freelance teaching, against a background of ill health.

His contribution to the repertoire of music of the 20th century was significant, with a catalogue containing seven symphonies, several major choral works, concerti, orchestral pieces for large and chamber orchestra. Christopher Steel also made a very real contribution to educational music, where he was always at pains to strike a balance between the lucid complexities of his works for professional performance and the over directness of his amateur and light scores.

Christopher Steel died on December 1991.

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