Stephen Oliver

Simon Callow writing in the Independent remembers the composer Stephen Oliver, who would have been 60 this year.

I miss him still. He was instinct with the life force; his work was rich and witty and direct and accessible. He had achieved astonishing things, which we have, but even better work was ahead of him. The profundity and the brilliance were beginning to match each other. As I say these things, I hear him say, “That’s the most pretentious/ patronising/ preposterous thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” He was one of the most purely joyful men I ever met, and the least self-regarding or solemn. At his memorial service, which he planned down to the last semi-quaver, he decided that I should read a review of Hamlet by George Bernard Shaw. I didn’t think it was particularly interesting. In the event, it raised gales of laughter at exactly the right moment in the service. Pure Stephen, to have wanted it and to have known how to get it.

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