George Lloyd Centenary 28 June 1913 – 3 July 1998
The George Lloyd centenary was marked by over 30 UK performances, and many broadcasts, including a concert with the National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Promenade Concert and a performance of HMS Trinidad March in the Last Night of the Proms.
“Critics were divided about Mr. Lloyd’s music; some found it refreshingly communicative, others considered it old-fashioned. Even his detractors, however, recognized his compositional voice as authentic and original, not merely a 19th-century pastiche. Although his language is unabashedly tonal, there is a freshness in the melodic writing in the 12 symphonies he composed between 1932 and 1990, and there are engaging complexities in his solo piano works.” New York Times, 10 July 1998
Fifteen years since his death in 1998, George Lloyd’s supporters are finally winning the fight for his contribution to British musical life to be recognised. Cited in the 1938 Oxford Companion to Music as a youthful prodigy, George Lloyd’s reputation never entirely recovered from the change in musical fashions which greeted him on his return from his tour of duty with the Royal Marines in the 1942 Arctic convoys. His centenary however, which is being celebrated this year, boasts more than 30 performances that include two BBC Proms, and gives perspective to his role which The Times described as “Far from being the last romantic in the 20th century, he may well become the first in the 21st.”
The BBC’s late night Prom on Tuesday 3 September pairs George Lloyd’s centenary with that of Benjamin Britten’s to present a programme that features Britten’s A Boy Was Born and Lloyd’s Requiem. Completed shortly before Lloyd died, Requiem was composed for small chorus and counter tenor with organ accompaniment, and at the BBC Proms will feature Iestyn Davies as soloist, Greg Morris as organist and the joint forces of the Temple Church Choir and BBC Singers conducted by David Hill.
The same week, on Saturday 7 September, Lloyd’s orchestration of HMS Trinidad March, originally composed for marine band, will be performed at the Last Night of the Proms, a concert that will be televised worldwide. The March was composed in 1941 as the official march for the ship on which Lloyd served during the Second World War, and was first performed at sea the following year by the Royal Marine Band, with George Lloyd playing cornet.
The week of Lloyd’s birthday culminates on Saturday 29 June when his Diversions on a Bass Theme has been selected as the test work for the English National Brass Band Championships. One of four works that Lloyd composed for major brass band competition, Diversions is ‘a wonderfully invigorating work’ and considered one of the finest pieces written for the medium. It was commissioned for the 1986 National Mineworkers Brass Band Championships - won by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band - and has since been performed at over 70 major brass band competitions.
Leading up to his birthday, two performances of A Litany, which the Financial Times described as celebrating “the English choral tradition as confidently as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams”, will be performed by EC4 Music on consecutive evenings in Fleet Street’s magnificent St Bride’s Church; and the birthday itself - Friday 28 June - will be marked by a performance of his Symphony No 10 for Brass (November Journeys) in Lloyd’s home town of St Ives.
“Lloyd writes unashamedly ‘traditional’, romantic scores: scores with tunes – thumping good tunes, more often than not dressed up in brilliant orchestral finery: scores which abound in strong rhythmic impulses (he wields a mean percussion section) and vigorous counterpoints.” Radio 3 Magazine, 1984