George Lloyd

George Lloyd - A life in music

George Lloyd was born in St Ives in 2013 and the Cornish landscape influenced much of his music. His musical talent was evident from an early age, he began to play the violin at the age of five and was composing music at the age of nine. His first symphony, written when he was nineteen, was premiered by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1933.

Lloyd’s music is tuneful and easily accessible, inviting us to share a heartfelt and consuming passion. He was a prolific composer. His work includes 12 symphonies, and 4 piano concertos, two violin concertos, 4 works for brass band and several choral-orchestral works. His chamber works includes music for solo and duet piano, brass quintet, and works for violin and piano. His last composition, a requiem, was completed three weeks before died in 1998. It was written in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

In World War 2 Lloyd served as a bandsman and gunner on the cruiser HMS Trinidad. In 1942, during an engagement, the ship fired a faulty torpedo which travelled in a circular path and hit the ship’s fuel oil tank. Many of Lloyd's shipmates were drowned. He suffered severe mental and physical trauma and was hospitalised before being discharged from the Royal Marines.

When the war ended his Swiss wife Nancy Juvet took him to Switzerland where he resumed composition including an opera commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain. However his health deteriorated further and in 1952 they moved to a market garden in Dorset where they lived for twenty years growing mushrooms and carnations.

He continued to write music in a tonal romantic style but met with difficulties in obtaining performances. Later he recalled that "I sent scores off to the BBC but they came back, usually without comment. I never wrote 12-tone music because I didn't like the theory. I studied the blessed thing in the early 1930's and thought it was a cock-eyed idea that produced horrible sounds. It made composers forget how to sing."

In 1972 he sold the market garden business and moved to London and his music came back into favour. A number of his scores were accepted for broadcast by the BBC and he went on to collaborate with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. After his death he was 'Composer of the Week' on Radio 3 and the 2013 BBC Proms programme includes performances of his Requiem and the HMS Trinidad March for Orchestra.

Lloyd travelled widely. For two seasons he was Principal Conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra in New York State and he was guest conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, which premiered a number of his works. His marriage to Nancy lasted until Lloyd's death. She survived him by 18 months,  the couple had no children.

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