|This new book was 'editor's choice' in Classical Music Magazine and listed as one of the books of the year in Classic FM Magazine. It was also reviewed by Rodney Milnes in the March, 2011 Opera magazine.|
In addition to a biography of Stephen’s unusual early life and school days, the book includes wonderful reminiscences and quotes from many eminent people in the Arts world. There are also over 30 photographs and transcripts of two interviews with Stephen. There are examples of his own brilliant writing plus a CD of him talking and singing.
Stephen's enormous talent in music and literature, generosity to others, keen wit and wonderful sense of humour, make this a must-read book for anyone interested in music, theatre and the arts—or anyone interested in simply exploring the concept of friendship or an approach to dealing with a terminal illness in the prime of life.
Ruth and James Oliver say: “We have experienced a wide range of emotions and remembrances as we have compiled our brother’s story. We have shed tears and laughed out loud, and in learning more about his extraordinary life, we have in turn learnt more about ourselves. We hope that all who read this book will enjoy something of the same experience.”
The £20 hardback book (ISBN 978-184876-534-4) is now available from UK booksellers and can be ordered from this website using Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and a wide range of other cards or PayPal. BOOKS ORDERED ON THIS WEBSITE ARE SOLD AT 25% DISCOUNT i.e. £15 plus £3 p&p per book.
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Andrew Green's four star review in the Classical Music Magazine (23rd October, 2010) says:
"Nearly two decades after his death and published to mark the 60th anniversary of his birth comes this variegated collection of writings in memory of the extraordinary Stephen Oliver. His output as a composer was staggering enough, most notably of course opera and musical theatre, but he was also a natural broadcaster, writer, lecturer and even actor, cramming his all-too-short life with contributions to the cultural body politic. And as the Samuel Johnson quotation in the book title is intended to indicate, Oliver took friendship and its responsibilities as seriously as anything else.
Friends indeed contribute much to this compilation, the devoted work of Oliver's brother and sister. The memories go back to early years, including his time as a St Paul's Cathedral chorister, when the already precocious early talent blossomed. We sample 0liver's own authentic voice talking about his life in conversation with Paul Griffiths and then German journalist Werner Bleisteiner, before moving on to a transcript of a legendary Radio 3 One Pair of Ears review of a week's broadcasting - deliciously written in rhyming couplets. Both this and the Bleisteiner interview also appear (along with examples of Oliver as witty songwriter/performer) on a bonus CD which adds greatly to the overall package.
Among the household names contributing memories are Tim Rice (on his collaboration with Oliver on the strangely underperformed musical Blondel), Simon Callow (musing on Oliver's gift for graceful bluntness), Graham Vick, Jonathan Dove and Jane Glover, whose close friendship with Oliver began at Oxford and flourished ever thereafter. There are contributions from Oliver's doctor and the nurse with him when he died of an Aids-related illness. His ashes were scattered at Batignano, the medieval Tuscan hill village graced so often, as we read, by his operas. Finally comes a transcript of the 1992 celebration of Oliver's life at St Paul's Covent Garden, including his setting of the Horatian lines embracing the legendary motto Carpe Diem. I hope that the truly gigantic concluding list of works and the book as a whole will encourage an 'Oliver Revival'. He probably would have chortled at the thought."