Grové Autographs in DOMUS collection Print E-mail

Stefans Grové


Stefans Grové is the most celebrated of the first generation of South African composers. He is the only South African composer to date on which a book critical essays has appeared (A Composer in Africa: Essays on the Life and Work of Stefans Grové, Sun Press, 2006), he has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of the Free State and Pretoria and in 2008 he was given honorary membership of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. Grové was the first South African recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship and taught for fourteen years at the world-renowned Peabody Conservatoire. He has lived in Pretoria since 1973, where he taught as professor in composition at the University of Pretoria until his retirement in 1987. He is still composer in residence at this university.

In May this year, Grové donated sketches, autographs and printed scores of nearly one hundred of his works to DOMUS for conservation, cataloguing and use for research and performance. The collection contains, with only few exceptions, Grové’s entire work list to date, which means that researchers and musicians will for the first time be able to view and study the composer’s entire oeuvre in one place. The music now housed at DOMUS includes previously unknown youth works: an untitled orchestral piece written in his matric year (1941), a Fantasy for piano and string orchestra (1939) first performed by Dodds Miller as conductor and the Cape Town radio orchestra, a Ballet suite for two pianos (1944), his first string quartet written under the guidance of W.H. Bell in Cape Town (1945) and a Sonatina for clarinet and piano (1946).


Apart from works from Grové’s neo-classical period (including the autograph of his 1955 Flute Sonata recorded by Jean-Pierre Rampal), and his much discussed African style that was already inaugurated with the ballet Waratha (1976), this donation also contains unusual finds. One of these is the stylistic imitations (1967-1995) performed by Grové to great acclaim in America and inspired by Rosemary Brown’s ‘Beyond the Fringe’ recording of 1966. This music, like the imitation piece Cantata Profana (of which the text was reportedly written during a beer drinking session), opens new perspectives on the legendary humour and wit that distinguishes Grové’s music from those of his more melancholic, neo-romantic South African peers. Another unusual work in this collection is the un-orchestrated score of an historical opera, Die bose wind (1983). Based on folk songs, the opera takes its theme from the free burgher rebellion and is situated in Cape Town (somewhere between 1779 and 1783). This work was commissioned by the then Cape Board for the Performing Arts (CAPAB) and has never been performed.

The Grové Collection is one of the most important music collections in South Africa. The donation of this material to DOMUS means that Stellenbosch University is well-poised to become an important centre for research on one of South Africa’s greatest composers.

(May 2008)



A Festival & Symposium
10 - 12 August 2012
Odeion School of Music

Internationally acclaimed South African composer, Stefans Grové, celebrates his 90th birthday this year. In honour of his long and distinguished career, the Odeion School of Music (University of the Free State), in collaboration with the Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) at the University of Stellenbosch, is proud to present a weekend-long festival in Bloemfontein from 10 to 12 August, which will include concerts of his music, a symposium of musicological reflection, as well as commentaries on his work by the composer himself.

The programme starts off on Friday 10 August with a talk given by Prof Grové (18:00) to introduce the evening’s concert. The concert at 19:30 will include Grové’s Tweespalt and Sanguinies from Piano Pieces (1975) Nonyana, the ceremonial dancer (1994), Afrika Beelde (1999) and Dance Song for the Nyau Dance (2003). Pianist Ben Schoeman is the soloist for this part of the programme. After the interval the set of Five Ingrid Jonker songs, Pan and the Nightingale and Sielvoël will be performed. The artists are Helen Vosloo (flute), Anmari van der Westhuizen (cello), Lesley-Ann Mathews (piano) and Matildie Thom Wium (mezzo soprano).

On Saturday 11 August the Documentation Centre for Music will present a symposium (9:00 – 13:00) on Grové’s music, including papers by such distinguished scholars as Gregory Barz (via video), Hannes Taljaard and Izak Grové, and a lecture demonstration by Ben Schoeman.

With the concert (19:30) Grové’s Afrika Hymnus II, the première of My Jaargetye (commissioned by the Odeion School of Music for Schoeman), Conversations for organ and piano as well as the première of Grové’s recently composed Piano Quintet – A Venda Legend. During this concert the FAK will present an award for exceptional cultural achievement to Stefans Grové and the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns will present a citation to the composer. This concert will be preceded by an interview with Grové conducted by Ben Schoeman on the subject of Grové’s piano music (18:00).

The concluding concert of the festival will take place on Sunday 12 August and will feature the ensemble work Musa, for flute (Helen Vosloo), viola (Jeanne-Louise Moolman), violoncello (Anmari van der Westhuizen), piano (Piet Moolman) and a narrator (Marli van der Bijl). Other works on Sunday afternoon’s programme include Grové’s Sonata for Viola and Piano and the Elegy for String Orchestra which will be performed by the OSM Camerata.

We sincerely thank the following OSM partners who have contributed to make these special events possible: DOMUS, Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, the FAK, ATKV & ATKV-Muziq and Xerox (UFS Campus).

Prof. Gregory Barz on Stefans Grové

Performances of Grové works:

Elegy for Strings

Pan en die Nagtegaal


(July 2012)


The Documentation Centre for Music (DOMUS) has recently embarked on digitizing their collections. Funding was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) and the process was facilitated by the Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service. Two collections were identified for digitization, which include the collection of the eminent composer-conductor Albert Coates and esteemed South African composer Stefans Grové. The digitization of the Grové collection coincides with the composer’s 90th birthday celebration in 2012.

At present the digitization of the Coates and Grové collections are underway. Please visit SUNDigital Collections.

(August 2012)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 April 2014 )

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