Steven Daverson

Tutor in Composition

BMus (Hons, GradRNCM), MMus, DMus (RCM)

Email: [email protected]

Steven Daverson (Northampton, UK, 1985) is a European composer whose work explores apparent paradoxes that arise from destructive musical forces, drawing on impossible or illogical spaces and scenarios in literature, cinema, and visual art. The music is fleeting and ephemeral, and yet possesses a latent violence that constantly threatens to surface. 

His music has been performed in the UK, Europe, and the US by ensembles including the Arditti Quartet, BBC Singers, Decoder Ensemble, Composers’ Ensemble, Explore Ensemble, Ensemble Contrechamps, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Recherche, Klangforum Wien, London Contemporary Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, London, Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Nikel, Mercury Quartet, and the Moscow Studio for New Music; and at international festivals such as  the Aldeburgh Festival, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Music of Today (London), Traiettorie Festival (Parma), Unerhörte Musik (Berlin), and the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik. A CD of his chamber and ensemble music—Shadow Walker—is available on col legno, and scores since 2008 are published  by Edition Gravis, Berlin.

​Steven became the youngest-ever recipient of the Composers’ Prize of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung in 2011, and was awarded the RPS Composition Prize in the same year. He has received commissions from the Hepner Foundation and the PRS Foundation, and other awards include the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 2008, and was winner of the Jurgenson Competition in 2009. In 2012 he was resident at the Herrenhaus Edenkoben with the Arditti Quartet, and most recently was a Fellow at the Internationales Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia, Bamberg, in 2019/20.

​​He received his doctorate in composition from the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, studying under Jonathan Cole as an AHRC scholar, and additional postgraduate tuition from Mark-Anthony Turnage. Previously he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, with David Horne. Steven also attended the Britten-Pears Young Artists Course in Aldeburgh, the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Impuls Academy (Graz), and a short course in musical programming at IRCAM (Paris), receiving tuition from Pierluigi Billone, Chaya Czernowin, Brian Ferneyhough, Beat Furrer, Oliver Knussen, Magnus Lindberg, Enno Poppe, and Rebecca Saunders, and many others.

Steven is Tutor in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and at the University of Cambridge.

Personal Website

Current and Future Research

  • Work on a Max-based software for composers planning music in multiple simultaneous temporal layers, in the manner of Stockhausen’s Gruppen or Birtwistle’s Theseus Game. The program will deal with the mathematical processes that are an inherent part of this kind of music, and allow for greater musical flexibility and accuracy than has thus far been possible, with applications for making click-tracks quickly and easily to facilitate the performance of the music.
  • Developing from an existing fascination with the ‘impossible spaces’ in the work of the American novelist Mark Z Danielewski, a musical exploration of the same concept in the work of other artists, writers, and scientists including Paul Klee, Jorge Luis Borges, Giovanni Battista PiranesiAlexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, Werner Heisenberg, Lars von Trier and, above all, Andrei Tarkovsky. This will provide a fruitful extra-musical basis for the research into multitemporality above.
  • An investigation into the internal structures and expressive potential of various catalogue-like works as the basis for new compositions, drawing on composers, writers, and directors such as Gèrard Grisey, Jennifer Walshe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jorge Luis Borges, Michel Foucault, and Peter Greenaway.

Research Funding

  • PRS Foundation Composers’ Fund Grant (2018) for a new work, La Nitroglycérine des Lumières, for Ensemble Nikel
  • Regular commissions from festivals and organisations including the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Harry and Alice Eiler Foundation, Hepner Foundation, Royal Philharmonic Society, and Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
  • Regular support from funding bodies including Sound and Music, Help Musicians UK, Bliss Trust, PRS Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust, and The RVW Trust.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Principle Study Composition 
  • Composition Techniques: Europe 1950 to the Present

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Principle Study Composition 

Research Supervision

Secondary Supervisor:

  • Elspeth Brooke (Composition): ‘The Application of Cinematographic Techniques and Aesthetics of Proximity and Perspective in Antonioni’s L’avventura to Musical Composition’
  • Ellen Sargen (Composition): ‘Creative bodies; embodied creation: behaviour and identity as emergent materials for new collaborative works’
  • Nate Chivers (Composition): ‘Using Minimum Amounts of Information as a Basis for Composition’

Professional Activity

Current composition projects include:

  • La Nitroglycerine des Lumières: A new work for electric guitar, saxophone, percussion, piano, devices, and live electronics for Ensemble Nikel, commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the PRSF Composers’ Fund, and drawing on the Lumière Brothers’ groundbreaking 1896 film Dèmolition d’un mur. 
  • Figures Outside a Dacha, With Sunrise: A new work for solo piano drawing on haunting scenes from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983).
  • Figures Outside a Dacha, with Snowfall, and an Abbey in the Background: New work for orchestra and live-electronics, co-commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and again based on scenes from Nostalghia.

Teaching External to the RNCM:

  • Tutor in Composition in the Music Faculty at the University of Cambridge

Previous Positions:

  • Visiting Lecturer in Compositition at City University London
  • Lecturer in Music at Brunel University London
  • Tutor in Composition at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik
  • Composer Mentor on Ensemble Recherche’s Klassenarbeit programme
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Royal College of Music