Howard Ferguson 1908 - 1999

Howard Ferguson was talent-spotted in Belfast as a 13-year-old pianist and invited to take lessons in London with Harold Samuel * At the Royal College of Music studied composition with R O Morris and conducting with Sir Malcolm Sargent * Compositional breakthrough came in 1933 with the Octet, widely regarded as his masterwork * Influenced by Brahms, and supported music of friends Vaughan Williams and Finzi * Works combine love of Classical forms and thematicism with expressive Romantic idiom * Meticulous approach to craftsmanship produced small output praised for its compositional perfection * In 1959, after making a final artistic statement in two oratorios, abandoned composition in favour of parallel musicological interests * Works championed by leading performers including Myra Hess, Jascha Heifetz, Yfrah Neaman, Kathleen Ferrier, Sir Henry Wood and Sir Adrian Boult

Works by Howard Ferguson include:
Octet (1933) for clarinet, bassoon, horn and string quintet
Piano Concerto (1950-51) for piano and strings
Amore Langueo (1955-56) for tenor, chorus and orchestra
The Dream of the Rood (1958-59) for soprano, chorus and orchestra

"Ferguson's music may seem to have little in common with the more radical statements of the 20th century, but it is beautifully executed and strongly structured, with a gentle but memorable manner of expression" — The Listener