Steve Martland (1959–2013)

We are very sad to announce that Steve Martland, one of the outstanding voices in British music since the mid-eighties, died in his sleep on the night of 6 May 2013.  He was born on 10 October 1959 in Liverpool and studied composition in Holland with Louis Andriessen. His lifetime preoccupation was with the function of the composer in society.

Steve was a unique figure, an independent, questioning spirit who inspired a generation of younger musicians – composers, players, promoters. Steve founded his own ensemble, The Steve Martland Band, which numbered amongst its founder members Dave Maric, Colin Currie and Alex Poots. He also ran his own pioneering summer school, "Strike Out", for budding composers still at school who had no other means of access to the support and teaching discipline that he was able to give them. 

His catalogue contains only one major orchestral work, Babi Yar (1983) but it is a shattering meditation on what humanity can be in the face of 'the natural history of destruction'. His works for string ensembles, especially Crossing the Border, are absolutely within the tradition of the great English music of Vaughan Williams, Tippett and Britten. His dancing, driven works for his ensemble carry titles from William Blake like Horses of Instruction and Eternal Delight and have been taken up by ensembles all over the world.

"Musicians today are no longer obliged to rely on the received traditions of music college when presenting new work. Rather, they now work in a deregulated aesthetic environment where, say, the deployment of digital samples and the influence of jazz/trip-hop/Balinese gamelan/your non-classical music of choice must be addressed with as much rigour as traditional instrumental virtuosity or the conventions of the sonata form. The Steve Martland Band... was grappling with these issues before most people realised they existed." (BBC Music Magazine).

photo: Ad Nuis



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