Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague (b. 10 March, 1943 Syracuse, New York) grew up in Idaho, West Virginia and Florida.  He studied piano, conducting and composition at Florida State University (1963-67), received a doctorate in composition from Ohio State University (1972) and won a Fulbright Fellowship to work in Warsaw, Poland (1972-74).  He first came to England as a musician with Strider Dance Co. (Richard Alston & co.), but since 1975 has worked as a freelance composer based in London and touring worldwide.  His music has been widely performed, featuring in numerous international festivals and venues such as the BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall, London), Wiener Musik Tage (Vienna), Festival of Contemporary Music (Mexico City) and Warsaw Autumn Festival.  Composer Portrait concerts devoted to his music have been given in London, Cambridge, New York, Houston, Mexico City, Vienna and Budapest.  Major commissions include the BBC Proms, Birmingham Royal Ballet (UK), New Music Biennale (Southbank Centre, London), Calgary Philharmonic (Canada), International Computer Music Association, and a 35-minute work for narrator and orchestra for the London Symphony Orchestra (Benjamin Luxon, narrator) for the Barbican Centre, London, with a further 14 performances by other leading British orchestras around the UK.

In addition to writing for traditional instrumental forces Montague has written numerous more ‘experimental’ works such as his Horn Concerto for klaxon horn soloist and an orchestra of automobiles, and Bennetts Bike Concerto for solo piano, 8 motorcycles, brass and percussion performed at the World Super Bike Championships (Brands Hatch Race Track, UK).  He has directed numerous large scale events such as the John Cage centennial Musicircus at English National Opera at the London Coliseum.

Although a long term UK resident, his compositional influences are often transatlantic.  He comments: “I have lived in Britain since 1974 but my musical heroes remain American: I admire Charles Ives’s unapologetic juxtaposition of vernacular music and the avant-garde, Henry Cowell’s irreverent use of fist and arm clusters, the propulsive energy of minimalism and John Cage’s radical dictum that all sound is music”.

Montague’s honours and awards include “Best New Piano Music CD Recording” from International Piano magazine, First Prize at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France), and the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation for Excellence in Composition.  As a “virtuoso pianist” [New York Times] he has recorded for all the major European radio networks, performed at Carnegie Hall, New York City, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Paris’s Centre Pompidou.  In his capacity as concert organiser and performer Montague has commissioned numerous works by leading composers including Sir John Tavener, Michael Nyman, Frederic Rzewski and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin).

Compact discs of Montague’s works are available on NMC (UK), ASV (UK), Signum (UK), Continuum (NZ), Centaur (USA), Point Records (USA) and others.  In addition to music he is an active cyclist, hiker and tennis player (the former Florida Junior Collegiate Tennis Champion).