William Sterling

Music composition

I wrote my first work when I was five.  It was for chime bars and Mrs Distin called it “William’s Tune”.  This was 1963 and I think she was very surprised that a five year old would be able to come up with an original tune.  I had played all the ones she had given us and was bored so the obvious thing it seemed to me to do was make up my own tune.  She then decided it was a good idea to get others to try and two of my fellow pupils also came up with original tunes.  I sometimes wonder whether they continued to compose as well.  It is now quite common for teachers to ask young children to try out their creativity musically and I sometimes think I was something of a pioneer in this field. 

I started composing seriously in February 1972 when I was still 13 and had been taking viola and clarinet lessons at school as well as singing in the school choir.  I tried a huge variety of works and most never came to very much.  In September 1973, aged 15, I went into the Sixth Form at Colfe’s School in Lee and decided to start just three “A” levels in History, Geography and Economics.  I had wanted to do Mathematics as well as this had been my joint best subject at “O” level with History but the curriculum clashed the two subjects and I was unable to do so.  As I had so much free time I decided to start British Constitution “O” level and Music “O” level.  I was one of just three pupils studying music so had plenty of one on one tutoring with my teacher, Norman Wilson.  He was a great teacher and had been a pupil of Humphrey Searle and Matyas Seiber no less.  Searle had been a pupil of John Ireland, Nadia Boulanger and Anton Webern and Seiber a pupil of Kodaly.  Mr Wilson was full of anecdotes from these teachers and their teachers and I felt I had a very rounded grounding in Music. 

I have composed over forty works including piano pieces, organ works, songs, chamber music, choral music and orchestral music.  Over time I shall make these available on the website as both MP3 files to listen to in an electronically generated approximation to what they really sound like and as a PDF donwload.  You can have a listen and anything you like the sound of you can print off and have your own go at.  It is all free so why not try it out.