Donald Steven | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Donald Steven

Soloist and OrchestraHarbinger. 1969. Sop, orch.

Steven, Donald

 Steven, Donald. Composer, teacher, b Montreal 26 May 1945; B MUS (McGill) 1972, MFA (Princeton) 1974. After performing and arranging folk and rock music for several years, he studied composition at McGill University with Bruce Mather 1968-72, and at Princeton U, NJ with Milton Babbitt 1972-4. He began teaching composition at McGill University in 1975 and became the head of the performance department in 1986. As a composer he has received several awards, including a BMI Award to Student Composers in 1970, the Canadian Federation of University Women's Creative Arts Award in 1972 and a Juno Award for Pages of Solitary Delights in the best classical composition category in 1987. By 1990, more than 140 performances of 27 of his works had been given in Canada, the USA and Europe, including Images during the ISCM World Music Days in Helsinki, Finland in 1978. His works have been commissioned by such world-renowned artists as Maureen Forrester, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, and Bertram Turetsky, and from several Canadian musical societies including the SMCQ, Days, Months and Years to Come (Magnetic Band), the Pierrot Ensemble, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, NMC and the CBC. Illusions for solo cello is one of his most frequently performed and broadcast works. Most of his works emphasize instrumental colour and atmosphere. Yet he maintains the elaboration of flexible formal structures while giving his intuition free rein to develop, an influence most likely derived from his longstanding relationship with rock and popular music. Steven won the 1991 Jules Léger Prize for his In the Land of Pure Delight. He has been a member of several national juries and boards of administration, including those of the CLComp and of the Canadian Music Centre, of which he is an associate.

Selected Compositions

Soloist and Orchestra
Harbinger. 1969. Sop, orch. Ms

The Transient. 1975. Sop, chamber ensemble. Ms

For Madmen Only. 1978. Vc, orch. Ms. McGill University Records 81013/RCI 568 (Tsutsumi)

Ordre sans ordre (sans désordre). 1984. Guit, chamber orch. Ms

Pages of Solitary Delights (F.R. Scott). 1985. Contralto, orch. Ms. McGill University Records 85025/McGill University Records 750028-2 (Forrester)

Love where the Nights are Long. 1987. V, oboe, orch (string quartet). Ms

That Other Shore. 1990. Db, low strings. Ms


Illusions. 1971. Vc. Kerby 1973. 1976. RCI 409 (Culbreath)

My Friend, the Leper. 1972. Str quartet. Kerby 1978

Images : Refractions of Time and Space. 1977. Elec fl, elec piano, elec bass, percussion. Québec-Musique 1981. (1986). McGill University Records 85027 (McGill Elec Music Studio)

Rainy Day Afternoon. 1979. 2 trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba. Eaman 1988. (1984). McGill University Records 80012 (Mount Royal Brass Quin)

On the Down Side. 1982. Alto saxophone, bar saxophone, bass trombone, percussion, keybd, elec bass. Ms. McGill University Records 84020 (Maiste)

Straight On Till Morning. 1985. Instr ensemble, tape. RCI 655 (SMCQ)

The Breath of Many Flowers. 1986. Str orch. Ms

Just a Few Moments Alone. 1986. Sop saxophone (alto fl). Ms

Sapphire Song. 1986. Cl. Ms

Orbits. 1989. Perc, tape. Ms

In the Land of Pure Delight. 1991. Chamb ensemble. Ms

Also Full Valleys for childrens' chorus (1990, manuscript)

Further Reading