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George Lloyd

George Walter Selwyn Lloyd (28 June 1913 – 3 July 1998) was a British composer.

Born in St Ives, Cornwall, of part Welsh, part American ancestry, Lloyd grew up in a very musical family.

is father, William A C Lloyd, was an Italian opera aficionado. He was born in Rome and returned to England on the death of his father, a retired naval officer. William Lloyd wrote a biography of Bellini. He was also an accomplished flautist. George Lloyd's mother played the violin, viola and piano. Both were leading members of the St Ives Arts Club and their house was a regular weekly venue for chamber music, so the young composer grew up with music all around him. His grandmother, the American painter Frances (Fanny) Powell, had been an opera singer, and was an early pioneer of the St Ives artists' colony.

George Lloyd showed his talent as a composer early; he began composing at the age of 9, and began serious study at the age of 14. He was mainly educated at home because of rheumatic fever. He was trained in the dramatic aspects of opera by his father, who would regularly give him scenes from English plays to set to music, and he later studied violin with Albert Sammons and composition with Frank Kitson and Harry Farjeon. He was a student at Trinity College London. His first symphony, written at the age of 19, was premiered in 1932 by the Penzance Orchestral Society and was performed again in 1933 by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, with the composer conducting on both occasions. A second symphony had its premiere in 1935 and was soon followed by a third. George Lloyd and his father William, formed The New English Opera Company in 1935, with the intention of establishing a school of English opera. George Lloyd's first opera, Iernin, with a libretto by his father, was performed in 1934 in Penzance, before being transferred to the Lyceum Theatre, London, where it had an unusually long run. His second opera, The Serf, was staged by Vladimir Rosing at Covent Garden in 1938.

When the war ended, his wife took him to Switzerland. In 1946 Lloyd resumed composition and wrote two symphonies and the opera John Socman, the last commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Lloyd's health deteriorated further, and in 1952, he took up full-time residence in Dorset. For 20 years, in addition to intermittent composition, he was a market gardener and grew mushrooms and carnations. He composed regularly from 4:30 AM to 7:30 AM, before the start of the rest of his working day. During this period he continued to write in a tonal, melodic style, contrary to the prevailing climate of modernist and avant garde styles, so he met with difficulties in obtaining performances of his music. He recalled:

"I sent scores off to the BBC. 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 1930s and thought it was a cock-eyed idea that produced horrible sounds. It made composers forget how to sing."

In 1972 he sold his market garden business and moved to London to 'pick up the pieces of my musical life' as he put it, and began an extraordinary and productive Indian Summer. A number of his scores were accepted for broadcast by the BBC, and he went on to collaborate with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and to record 7 of his 12 symphonies and 3 of his Piano Concertos with that orchestra. He was a very early adopter of digital technology, and established his own recording, production, publishing and distribution company, making 22 CD recordings in all. After his death he was 'Composer of the Week' on Radio 3, and the 2013 BBC Proms programme includes performances of his Requiem and his H.M.S.Trinidad March for Orchestra on the Last Night of The Proms.

The George Lloyd Society and the musical estate is administered by William Lloyd, who worked with the composer as business manager, executive producer and record distributor for the last 10 years of his life.

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