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George Lloyd (b. St Ives, Cornwall, 28 June 1913; d. London, 3 July 1998) was a composer remarkable not only for the breadth and consistency of his output, but also for the circumstances in which it was achieved, overcoming physical and psychological challenges, not to mention changing musical fashions and tastes. He composed three operas, three large scale cantatas, a large body of orchestral music (including twelve symphonies and seven concertos) and numerous chamber works, as well as many significant works for wind and brass band. Lloyd’s gift for music showed itself early. He began to play the violin at the age of five and was writing music at ten, before following an exclusively musical education. He had considerable early success before the age of 21, and his operas at The Lyceum and Covent Garden were attended by the entire musical establishment, bringing his music to the attention of a wide audience. This early promise was brought to an abrupt end by World War II. Lloyd volunteered as a Royal Marine and suffered devastating physical and psychological injuries during one of the most appalling and tragic episodes of the naval war, while guarding convoys in the Arctic Ocean on HMS Trinidad. In the years following the war, Lloyd faced a long period of recuperation aided by the devotion of his wife Nancy. At the same time, the musical landscape was changing considerably and, as Lloyd returned to composing, he found himself at odds with the serial and atonal style that was now in favour with the leading critics of the day. Lloyd moved to Dorset, earning his living as a market gardener. However, he did not give up composition and throughout the 1950s and 60s he would rise at 5am and spend an hour composing before his day’s work. Following his retirement in 1973, Lloyd returned to composing full time with renewed vigour. He moved to London and the premiere of his Symphony No 8 under Sir Edward Downes helped to encourage an Indian summer with performances and recordings of his work taking place around the world. The one exception to the 25 year indifference of the musical establishment was the world of wind and brass band music, where he found a warm, friendly, appreciative and loyal audience. His brass band works have been consistently used as test pieces in National and Regional championships in the UK, Norway, Sweden and Holland and Australia. Lloyd’s affection for brass music came partly from his own experience as a brass player (he played the cornet in the Royal Marine Band that was wiped out by a torpedo on HMS Trinidad in 1942) and he knew well the characteristics and limitations of each instrument. Lloyd’s music has been widely recorded. The composer himself conducted 22 recordings of his own music, issued by Lyrita, Conifer, Argo, Chandos, Doyen, Decca and primarily the Albany Records label. Information about the composer’s complete works is available from the George Lloyd Music Library.
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