Howard Ferguson (composer)

Howard Ferguson ( born October 21, 1908 in Belfast, † October 31, 1999 in Cambridge ) was an Irish composer.

The son of a banker, had as a child piano and violin lessons. With its participation in a piano competition 1922, he was discovered by Director Harold Samuel, who took him as a student in London. From 1924 he studied at the Royal College of Music composition with RO Morris and Ralph Vaughan Williams and conducting with Malcolm Sargent; next he took further private piano lessons with Samuel.

Since the early 1930s, Ferguson shared a friendship with composer Gerald Finzi; their correspondence was published in 2001 under the title Letters of Gerald Finzi and Howard Ferguson. It was at this time a number of chamber music works, including the First Violin Sonata and an octet. Since the beginning of the Second World War he assisted Myra Hess at the event at the National Gallery Concerts, during which nearly 1700 programs were listed.

After the war, Ferguson turned again to the composition. In addition, he began a successful career as a musical partner of pianist Denis Matthews and the violinist Yfrah Neaman. From 1948 to 1963 he taught at the Royal Academy of Music, where Susan Bradshaw, Richard Rodney Bennett and Cornelius Cardew were among his students.

Since the late 1950s, Ferguson was also active as a musicologist and produced a number of editions of early piano music. 1978/79 he published his complete edition of Schubert's piano sonatas.


  • Five Irish Folk Tunes for Cello or Viola and Piano, 1927
  • Two Ballads for baritone and orchestra, 1928-32
  • Sonata No.. 1 for Violin and Piano, 1931
  • Three Sketches for flute, 1932
  • Three Medieval Carols for voice and piano, 1932-33
  • Four Short Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, 1932-36
  • Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet and double bass, 1933
  • Five Pieces Pipe, 1934-35
  • Partita for Two Pianos, 1935-36
  • Partita for Orchestra, 1937
  • Sonata in F minor for Piano, 1938-40
  • Four Diversions on Ulster Airs for orchestra, 1939-42
  • Five Bagatelles for Piano, 1944
  • Sonata No.. 2 for violin and piano, 1946
  • Chauntecleer, Ballet, 1948
  • Concerto for piano and string orchestra, 1950-51
  • Discovery, song cycle, 1951 ( recording with Kathleen Ferrier )
  • Two Fanfares for four trumpets and three trombones, 1952
  • Overture for an Occasion, 1952-53
  • Lovely Armoy for four-part mixed chorus, 1954
  • Amore Langueo for tenor, chorus and orchestra, 1955-56
  • Five Irish Folk songs for voice and piano, 1956
  • The Dream of the Rood for soprano, chorus and orchestra, 1958
  • Love and Reason for countertenor and piano, 1958, 1993


  • With RO Morris: Preparatory exercises in score -reading, London, Oxford University Press, 1931
  • With Denise Lassimonne: Myra Hess: by her friends, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1966
  • Keyboard interpretation from the 14th to the 19th century: an introduction, London, Oxford University Press, 1975
  • Entertaining solo: a cookbook for the single host Cambridge, H. Ferguson, 1995
  • Music, Friends and Places: A Memoir, London, Thames, 1997.
  • Letters of Gerald Finzi and Howard Ferguson, Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2001