Roger Rooman (1948 – 1996)

Roger Rooman was born in Maldon Victoria on 24 July 1948 and grew up in Melbourne where he spent the rest of his life. He studied mathematics and science. As a young teenager, Rooman discovered classical music and decided to pursue a career in this field. After receiving some basic music tuition from a family friend, Rooman continued studying music on his own.

Rooman usually worked on a large canvas. String Quartet in One Movement is a mighty arch spanning some forty five minutes in length and similarly Prelude, Aria and Sinfonia for string orchestra is a continuous work of immense proportion. The works for full orchestra again are on a large scale. The scoring is always a variation on the standard instrumentation, for example in Passage, for full symphony orchestra, instead of three trumpets, one trumpet and two cornets doubling fugal horn are used, giving a totally different sound to the brass section of a symphony orchestra.

Rooman developed a unique and very distinctive musical language. His first composition, a Tone Poem in A minor for orchestra, dates from 1965. Three more Tone Poems followed in different keys, E Minor, C Sharp Minor and D Minor. Between these, Rooman composed a Clarinet Quintet, again in the definite key of B Minor.

From 1969 Rooman moved away from a fixed key signature to a much more free style – while avoiding atonal writing. The first of these compositions, Homage to Edgar Allan Poe, is for flute, harpsichord and string quartet. In 1974, Rooman was working on a chamber symphony, which he marked Unfinished One day to be completed. At about the same time, he was also working on a piece for chamber orchestra entitled Overture, Fantasticos and Epilogue completed in 1976.

Although Rooman was not a string player, he had an uncanny sense of the technical capabilities of string writing which players find gratifying. A great preference for string instruments, especially for the cello is noted. The String Quartet in One Movement (1973) is Rooman’s first ambitious composition. This work clearly shows a demarcation from the classical string quartet literature.

The period from 1977 to 1985 is Rooman’s most productive. The first and only work for voices, Swinburne Love Songs dates from 1977. He also completed a series of large orchestral works including Passage (1977) and Midday Miracles (c.1979), followed by Prelude, Aria and Sinfonia (1983), his most ambitious work for string orchestra. Arioso in Alto (Sky Bridge) 1992 also for string orchestra, a short rhapsodic piece is an apotheosis within the body of Rooman’s work.