Des Oliver studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Saxton and Simon Bainbridge. He won a Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music with Steve Martland, has had Masterclasses with Tom Adés, Nicholas Maw, the BBC Singers, Paavo Heininen, Paul Rouders, Simone Fontanelli and participated in the 2015 composer-choreographer collaboration funded by the RPS Drummond Fund at Rambert Dance Company. He has taught composition at Brunel University, Magdalen college, Oxford, St John's, St Hugh's, and Exeter college, and was a Senior Lecturer in composition and music production at the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM), Guildford. He recently completed his doctorate in composition and critical writing at Worcester college, Oxford and is currently the curator for the Oxford Music Faculty's Sounds of South Asia Series.
His music has been performed at the B.M.I.C, the South Bank Centre (Park Lane Group Young Composer's Symposium), The Bridewell Theatre, The Sheldonian Theatre, Holywell Music Room, Chelmsford Music Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Commissions include works for the Oxford Philomusica, Ensemble Isis, Clio Gould and the Royal Academy of Music Soloists, All India Radio Artist Shruti Jauhari, The Fusion Project's Janan Sathiendran, a short Opera by the Tête á Tête Opera Company in collaboration with librettist Meredith Oakes, reviewed by the Observer, Independent, and Telegraph. Theatre scores include Euripides' Bacchae at the Oxford Playhouse (Oxford Greek Play 2017). International performances include Wegelius Hall in Helsinki, Pärnu Music Festival in Estonia, Akademie múzickych umeni in Prague and at the II Música Nueva Málaga International Festival in Spain (2009) with soloist Emil Sein, Dino Ghezzo, and choreographer Lisa Naugle. Oliver's piece–Dionysian Rivers Flow Through Me–was selected for the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) 2018 in Daegu, South Korea.