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Stephen Oliver was one of the foremost British composers of opera and music theatre of his generation. For most of his life Stephen Oliver was able to live as a full-time composer, creating a vast catalogue of works, including incidental music for over fifteen productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the West End musical
(1983) to a libretto by Sir Tim Rice, and well over forty operas. Many of these were written to special commission from the Batignano Festival in Tuscany, Italy.
His television music includes scores for the BBC Shakespeare series produced by Jonathan Miller, the thirteen-part Camera series for Granada TV and a four-part drama series for the BBC. In 1982 he wrote and presented a series for London Weekend Television called 'Understanding Opera'. His catalogue also contains works for instrumental and chamber ensembles. Theatre is at the heart of Stephen Oliver's thinking and opera central to a view of his work. Some of his works are in the self-styled category of 'mini-operas' lasting under thirty minutes. Oliver's brilliant composing career culminated in the world première of
Timon of Athens
by English National Opera in 1991. This final opera was described by the composer himself as the work he was "made to write".
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