Stephen Ferguson
Registered as:

Ferguson Stephen

General Information

Year of Birth:  1955
Date of Birth:  24. February 1955
Place of Birth:  Glasgow
Country of Birth: 


PeriodEducationInstrumentTeacherEducation OrganisationLocation

first lessons


first composition lessons


piano diploma (applied music)




PhD. (musicology)

University of Aberdeen: electronic music

University of Aberdeen: composition

University of Aberdeen: musicology (Raymond Dodd, Reginald Barrett-Ayres)


1978 - 1979

East Africa: foreign aid and musicological research


invitation to Stanford


lecture and concert tour in the USA

1992 - 1996

assistant of Györgi Ligeti

1992 - 1996

lector (responsible for Györgi Ligeti)

own recording studio

collaboration with Pierre Boulez

production of LP and CD

Commissions (Selection)

PeriodCommissionCompositionCommissioner (Organisation)Commissioner (Person)

Schauspielhaus Hamburg


PeriodAwardCompositionAwarding Organisation

state scholarship for composition



Description of Style

The situation.
Today the working material of the composer is not the score, but the (digitalized) sound.
The score is increasingly less considered as a result of the composition . It's production and distribution is unprofitable, it will only survive as a communication medium between composer and musicians. What we produce are recordings, car files.
The governmental support of art will go back, more and more autonomy is expected from the composers. That means that the composer, in addition to the purely artistic production, will also increasingly have to produce "functional music".
The stylistic skills of the composers will become broader. He and she will no longer be able to hide behind the walls of the high arts. The world is pluralistic, it's intellectual rights are no longer ideological - who listens to only one category of music? - but luxurious. Complex and difficult music is not dead, but it can not imply profound knowledge about the Western European music history. It has to be self-explanatory.
Our listeners wander through the World Wide Web, listen to 50 channels, have CDs from Mozart to Coltrane to dancefloor music. It is not enough to appear in the concert program . We must show that we have understood that the intellectual reception goes new ways. Otherwise that, what we do - and what we are - is anachronistic.


My working environment.
I recognized long ago that the workshop in which I work, can not be equipped with paper and pencil. I was always anxious to understand the new media [...]. In the recent years I have collected my own tools for music production.
I was probably the first e-musician in Austria to purchase Pro Tools 3, and the digital workstation is my working place. Meanwhile my recording studio now has 40 digital tracks, many MIDI instruments and lots of sampling-RAM and high-quality analog signal paths. I can create whole productions, from the basic idea up to the finished CD.
That does not mean that I'm a believer of technology. The first step for me is always "shut the computer down". The intellectual work still takes place in the heart and the fantasy of the composer. Imagination and it's aural implementation is our world. But the mediation of the imagination is new - we have to able to compose for an orchestra, but also for film, internet, CD-ROM and DVD. (I am currently working on a CD-ROM, on music for the new digital pay-TV Austria, on ideas for a large orchestra, on music for the Klangturm in Lower Austria).
We can only enrich the new media with our music, if we understand their laws and their properties. Even if the intellectual content that we communicate stays our own forever, it's external form will become increasingly diverse.


Stephen Ferguson 1997