Albany Records

Albany Records

"It is untrue to say 'they don't write music like that anymore'.

They do: George Lloyd does" The Daily Telelgraph

The British composer George Lloyd (1913-1998) resisted trends in 20th Century music by continuing to write lyrical, romantic tunes. His works include three operas, twelve symphonies, three large scale choral works, seven concertos, piano and violin music, and virtuoso pieces for brass band.

Born in Cornwall, Lloyd was a musical prodigy, his opera Iernin being performed in London when he was 21. His career was interrupted by the World War II, which left him with severe physical and mental injures, from which he slowly recovered. In later years, he achieved hard earned success as a composer, conductor and recording artist.

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The George Lloyd Society

George Lloyd   1913 – 1998

George Lloyd composed 3 operas, 3 large scale cantatas, 12 symphonies, 7 concertos for cello, piano and violin, and numerous chamber works together with many works for brass and wind.  His life would be remarkable enough for the scale and consistency of his musical work, but that achievement is the more remarkable when one considers the extraordinary adversities which he overcame in order to maintain his creative life.

George Lloyd was born in St. Ives, Cornwall, in 1913. He began playing the violin at the age of five and 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 whole of the musical establishment, and brought his music to the attention of a wide audience. This early promise was brought to an abrupt end by World War II.  He 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.

A long period of recuperation followed, and he slowly began to compose again thanks to the care of his devoted wife Nancy.  When he was well enough to face the world, he found that the musical landscape had changed beyond recognition, and serialism and atonality were the dominant forms.  The young man who had been one of the great hopes of English music in the 1930s was considered anachronistic by the age of 40. Undeterred, Lloyd remained faithful to his muse, and having found his voice, he moved to Dorset and throughout the 1950s and 1960s he continued to compose in his own style, rising at 5 a.m. to spend an hour or two at his scores before starting his day's work, earning a living as a market gardener.  At the age of sixty he retired from his business, and emerged from the wilderness with a stack of symphonies, concertos and chamber music.  Still convinced that serial and atonal forms were a passing fashion,  and sure of the enduring importance of melody and tonality, he moved to London and began to explore every possible avenue for performance.

In 1977 his Eighth Symphony was premiered under Sir Edward Downes, and the concert and subsequent broadcast made an immediate impact.  Vindicated and encouraged by the overwhelming positive response from the public, he gave the rest of his life to composition, performance and recording.  His Indian summer comprised performances of his works all over the UK, and from New York to San Francisco, Europe and the Far East. He conducted 22 recordings of his own music, issued by Lyrita, Conifer, Argo, Chandos, Doyen, Decca and primarily the Albany Records label.  He died in 1998. A complete set of perusal scores, orchestral material, CD recordings and biographical material are available by arrangement with Nimbus Music Publishing.

Brass Bands

The one exception to the 25 year indifference of the musical establishment was the world of Brass and Wind 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.  He was often asked to judge the contests at the Royal Albert Hall, where his opinions were usually forcefully expressed, and not always in accord with the other judges in the box!

His 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 exactly what the instruments could, and could not, do.  After he overheard comment that one of his early test pieces was too easy, his next one was fiendishly difficult, but once mastered, became one of his most popular works. His brass works have been recorded frequently, and he worked closely with conductor David King on producing what he considered the definitive versions, played by the Black Dyke Mills band.  Partly because of his orchestral and operatic background, he was always keen to develop the orchestral qualities of the Brass Band sound – he would vary the dynamics and the tempo in any way he could to get the last ounce of expression into the music. 

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