George Lloyd Biography

"George Lloyd" according to the critic Harry Farjeon, writing in 1939 "gets into his music something of the soil and nothing of the carpet: he writes as though on the moors of Cornwall or Yorkshire, not as though in a walled-in study." Indeed there is an earthy, unmistakeably English quality to Lloyd's music, which by the late 30s had made the young composer a phenomenon: in 1938, London greeted with astonishment and acclaim the 25 year old Lloyd, who had composed two operas - Iernin at the Lyceum and The Serf at Covent Garden - seemingly from nowhere.

It is telling that George's third opera, John Socman, was one of three commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951, alongside works by Britten and Vaughan Williams. However, World War II had left Lloyd physically and psychologically scarred: whilst serving in the Royal Marines - where his long and fruitful association with Band Music began - Lloyd was among the lucky few Bandsmen to survive when his cruiser HMS Trinidad was torpedoed on the Arctic convoys.

By the time he could return productively to work, the musical and critical tides had changed dramatically: his former reputation disregarded, George strove alone to continue his work, finding no recognition from an establishment which now saw his work as regressive. It is a credit to George's devotion to his art, and his strong self-belief, that in the last years of his life, following several commissions from the Albany Symphony Orchestra (bringing the number of symphonies to 12!) and the runaway success of his Symphonic Mass, Lloyd's music once again started to reach a larger audience, and receive the critical appreciation it deserved.

This can in part be attributed to the enduring appetite of modern audiences for music which is unapologetically melodic - Lloyd's writing is tuneful and easily accessible - but its appeal is more sophisticated than that: his music invites us, unabashed, to share a heartfelt and consuming passion, delivered with exceptional technique in orchestration and clarity of expression.

Lloyd's is deeply personal music, the triumphant product of a life marred by personal tragedy, and a joyfully defiant response to an increasingly cynical world. As Richard Morrison, writing in BBC Music Magazine shortly before George's death in 1998 put it, "how many could say 'I write what I have to write' with such conviction?".

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