Howard Ferguson (composer)

Howard Ferguson (composer)

Howard Ferguson (October 21 1908–October 31 1999) was a British composer and musicologist.


Born in Belfast, Ferguson's musical talent was apparent early. The pianist Harold Samuel heard him in 1922 and encouraged his parents to allow him to travel to London to become his pupil. Following studies at Westminster School Ferguson entered the Royal College of Music in 1924 to study composition with R. O. Morris and Ralph Vaughan Williams. He also studied conducting with Malcolm Sargent, and formed a friendship with fellow-student Gerald Finzi.

His early compositions, such as his "Octet" of 1933 (scored for the same forces as Franz Schubert's octet), met with considerable success.

During World War II, Ferguson helped Myra Hess run the popular, morale-boosting series of concerts at the National Gallery. From 1948 to 1963 he taught at the Royal Academy of Music, his students there including Richard Rodney Bennett and Cornelius Cardew. He regarded Bennett as having an astonishing natural talent, though lacking a personal musical style.

After writing "The Dream of the Rood" in 1958-9, Ferguson simply gave up composing (saying that in his relatively few works he had 'said' all he wanted to say) in order to concentrate on musicology. His editions of early keyboard music and the complete piano sonatas of Schubert are authoritative.

In his later years he lived in Cambridge.

elected compositions

* Two Ballads, op. 1 (baritone and orchestra)
* Violin Sonata No.1, op. 2 (violin and piano)
* "Three Mediaeval Carols", op. 3 (voice and piano)
* "Octet", op. 4 (mixed ensemble)
* "Partita", op. 5a (orchestra)
* "Partita", op. 5b (two pianos or piano four hands)
* "Four Short Pieces", op. 6 (clarinet or viola and piano)
* "Four Diversions on Ulster Airs", op. 7 (orchestra)
* Piano Sonata in F minor, op. 8
* Five Bagatelles op. 9 (piano)
* Violin Sonata No.2, op. 10 (violin and piano)
* Piano Concerto, op. 12 (piano and orchestra)
* "Discovery", op. 13 (solo voice and piano)
* "Three Sketches", op. 14 (flute and piano)
* "Overture for an Occasion". op. 16 (orchestra)
* "Five Irish Folksongs", op. 17 (solo voice and piano)
* "Amore Langueo", op. 18 (chorus and orchestra)
* "Love and Reason" (solo voice and piano)
* "The Dream of the Rood", op. 19 (chorus and orchestra)

External links

* [ Howard Ferguson biography and list of works at Boosey and Hawkes]

* [ Howard Ferguson biography Banbridge District Online]

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