George Lloyd was born in 1913 in St Ives (Cornwall) and had a traumatic life. Both his parents were keen musicians and encouraged his talent from an early age. Illness meant he was taught at home then left to continue his studies in London.
He wrote his first symphony at 19 which was premiered in Penzance. We heard the Introduction, Theme and Five Variations and it was music which showed great accomplishment. Two other symphonies followed as well as two operas; The Serf and Lernin. The latter was also first performed in Penzance before being transferred to London where it had an unusually long run. Alan Forshaw, the presenter, played the Duet from the opera and it was an outstanding piece of music.
A crucial event in his life was joining the Marines as a bandsman and took part in the awful North Cape convoys to supply the Red Army in WWII. A most terrible event took place in many of his fellow marines were drowned in fuel oil. This affected his mental wellbeing and prolonged hospitalisation with what was still being called shellshock, now called PTSD.
It was physically difficult for him to write music because of the shaking but with devoted care from his wife he was able to start again. A movement from a subsequent symphony demonstrated a change in style.
He wrote music for brass bands and one such was HMS Trinidad March, the ship he had served on. He had almost no success with commissions from the BBC with his scores returned with no comment. A member of the audience suggested this might have been the influence of William Glock and the pressure to use the 12 tone scale which Lloyd has little time for.
He quit the musical life and he and his wife opened a market garden in Dorset. He began to be appreciated in later life and had some of his work performed at the Proms and he did well in America. Albany Records recorded several of his works. We heard a movement from the 4th Piano Concerto and a movement from the 6th Symphony. Other pieces included extracts from the Requiem, and the Black Dyke Mills Band playing a memoriam following the IRA atrocity in the Royal parks.
For those of us who knew little of this composer’s work it was a revelation. He had a sure touch when it came to orchestration. I felt his style would have suited film music where he may have done well. We were grateful to Alan for his work in preparing the evening.
Please note we now have a page on Facebook – Salisbury recorded music society.
Next meeting on 28 October