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Sir Lennox Berkeley

Sir Lennox Randal Francis Berkeley (12 May 1903 – 26 December 1989) was an English composer.

Berkeley was born on 12 May 1903 in Oxford, England, the younger child and only son of Aline Carla (1863–1935), daughter of Sir James Charles Harris, former British consul in Monaco, and Royal Navy Captain Hastings George FitzHardinge Berkeley (1855–1934), the illegitimate and eldest son of George Lennox Rawdon Berkeley, the 7th Earl of Berkeley (1827–1888). He attended the Dragon School in Oxford, going on to Gresham's School, in Holt, Norfolk and St George's School in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. He studied French at Merton College, Oxford, graduating with a fourth class degree in 1926. While at university he coxed the college rowing eight. He became an honorary fellow of Merton College in 1974.

In 1927, he went to Paris to study music with Nadia Boulanger, and there became acquainted with Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger and Albert Roussel. Berkeley also studied with Maurice Ravel, often cited as a key influence in Berkeley's technical development as a composer.

He enjoyed a long association with Benjamin Britten, with whom he collaborated on a number of works. In later years, his adoption of serialism marked a darker and more brooding style. 

He worked for the BBC during the Second World War, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Freda Bernstein (1923-2016) whom he married on 14 December 1946. Together they had three sons; their eldest son Michael Berkeley, Baron Berkeley of Knighton, is also a composer, and their youngest son is the photographer Nick Berkeley.

He was Professor of Composition in the Royal Academy of Music from 1946 to 1968. His students included Richard Rodney Bennett, David Bedford, Clive Strutt, John Tavener and Brian Ferneyhough.

He was knighted in 1974 and from 1977–83 was President of the Cheltenham Festival.
He resided at 8 Warwick Avenue, London, from 1947 until his death in 1989.


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