Dr. Vivienne Olive celebrates her 70th birthday on May 31st, 2020

Dr. Vivienne Olive © Volker Blumenthaler
Dr. Vivienne Olive © Volker Blumenthaler

The Archive of Women in Music celebrates the composer Vivienne Olive

Dr. Vivienne Olive is one of the most exciting composers of our time. Her oeuvre is comprised of more than 60 works ranging from solo recorder pieces to large-scale orchestral works and operas. Besides her compositional work, Vivienne Olive taught music theory and composition in Nuremberg until her retirement in 2015. In 2014, she was appointed honorary professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Nuremberg. Vivienne Olive celebrates her 70th birthday on May 31st, 2020.

At seven years old, London-born Vivienne Olive began piano lessons and wrote her first compositions. By the time she was eighteen, she knew she wanted to be a composer. She dedicated herself to this pursuit, completing her associate diploma in piano, harpsichord, organ and music theory at Trinity College London, and earning a doctorate in composition from the University of York.

As part of her compositional training, she spent a year in York studying with Bernard Rands. In the beginning of the 1970s, she studied with Franco Donatoni in Milan. She then studied for a time in Austria with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and subsequently came to Freiburg/Breisgau for three years as a scholar of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). After her studies, she worked at a music school near Freiburg before assuming a position as a music theory lecturer in Nuremberg. There, she campaigned for composition to be an official subject of study. While in Freiburg, she became aware of the founding of a new organization – the International Working Group of Women and Music. She was present at its inaugural meeting in 1978 and has held a position on its board of directors in multiple capacities since 1995.

Dr. Vivienne Olive als Kind © privat
Dr. Vivienne Olive as a child © private

In addition to her work as a composer, Vivienne Olive founded the Music Festival in the English village of Brixworth/Northamptonshire in 2014. As part of this festival, she initiated a women composers’ competition. Vivienne Olive’s current projects include a children’s opera about plastic pollution and a new work for women’s choir. She is also planning a meeting of women composers for autumn 2020.

In its anniversary year 2019, the Archiv Frau und Musik (Archive of Women in Music) published an interview between Mary Ellen Kitchens and Vivienne Olive as part of a project with the Digital German Women’s Archive (DDF)In this interview, Vivienne Olive discusses her life, her relation to the women’s (music) movement and her work as a lecturer and composer.

As part of her commitment to the International Working Group of Women and Music, Vivienne Olive wrote numerous articles for the in-house magazine VivaVoce. In addition to extensive discourse on women and music, she has made significant contributions to the analysis of works by women composers and performances thereof with a focus on instrumentation.

The VivaVoce 100 contains a second interview by Mary Ellen Kitchens of Vivienne Olive on the occasion of her 65th birthday. In the Compositions to go section of this edition, Ghost Gums, an excerpt from her work Five Australian Landscapes, was also published.

She has had numerous compositions published, many of them by the Kassel-based Furore-Verlag.

The board of directors of the International Woman and Music Association and the entire team of the Archive of Women in Music congratulate Vivienne Olive on her 70th birthday and wish her all the best for the future!

Selected publications of Vivienne Olive:

  • Lecturer exchange between Nuremberg and Glasgow, in: Info No. 24, 1992.
  • “A woman does not have to be able to compose.” Vivienne Olive in conversation with the pianist Annie Gicquel, in: VivaVoce No. 37, 1996.
  • Work analysis: Janet Beat “Scherzo Notturno” for string quartet (To my family pictured within), in: VivaVoce No. 38, 1996.
  • Work analysis: Clara Schumann: Romance in A minor, op. 21 no. 1 for piano, in: VivaVoce no. 39, 1996.
  • Work analysis: “Im Wald” by Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn for four-part choir, in: VivaVoce No. 40, 1996.
  • Women composers in the digital age, in: VivaVoce No. 41, 1997.
  • Work analysis: Mary Mageau (Australia). Elite Syncopations for piano, in: VivaVoce No. 44, 1997.
  • Announcement: International Competition for Composition, in VivaVoce No. 95, 2013.
  • Work analysis: “Leaves at play” for 3 flutes by Rhonda Berry, in: VivaVoce No. 95, 2013.
  • Janet Beat, in VivaVoce No. 97, 2013.
  • Interview with Siegrid Ernst, in VivaVoce No. 99, 2014.

Vivienne Olive: Bush Gin Rag played by Uta Walther:

Text: Julian Fischer
Translation: Melissa Panlasigui