The Kennedy Center

George Walter Selwyn Lloyd


George Lloyd was an English composer of late Romantic classical music.  He was born on June 28, 1913 in St Ives, Cornwall into an upper middle class family.  Both of his parents were musicians.  His father was a flutist and his mother played several string instruments.   He was home schooled because of rheumatic fever but he started writing music when he was age ten.  He had studied violin and composition at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London he displayed great talent as a composer.  He studied violin with Albert Sammons, counterpoint with C. H. Kitson and composition with Harry Farjeon.  He wrote his first symphony at the age 19. It was premiered in 1933 by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  His second symphony premiered in 1935 at Eastbourne and was shortly followed by a third that the BBC Symphony Orchestra performed.  His first opera was performed in 1934.
He married his Swiss born wife Nancy in 1937.  With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted as a Royal Marine bandsman and gunner on the cruiser HMS Trinidad.  While on a dangerous convoy in 1942 a defective torpedo blew up his ship.  He survived but became shell shocked developing post traumatic stress disorder and had a complete metal health breakdown.  This forced him to move to Dorset where for the next twenty years of his life, he divided his time working as a gardener and composer. 
Around 1960 he returned to composing full time but by then the music industry had changed.  They called him the Rip Van Winkle of the music industry it was like he had slept for years only to awaken to find everything has changed.  He tried to reenter the music scene by way of the BBC but was blocked by William Glock and the BBC's music policy.  Years later the person who blocked him was also strangely responsible for his successful comeback during the 1970's.  Slowly his works began to be performed and recorded again.  Heart problems plagued him near the end of his life and his last composition was the Requiem 1998.  He finished it 3 weeks before his death at the age of 85.  He dedicated it to the memory of Diana, Princess of WalesHe was survived by his wife Nancy.
George Lloyd