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Biographical articles

Category: Online Biography (Public) 

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The George Lloyd Society has recently started work on a biography of the composer, based on the extensive correspondence, photographic archives, press features, and articles written by George Lloyd's associates.  The work-in-progress is available for download as stand-alone PDF Files. These are 'first drafts', intended as source material for the full length biography, and not as finished texts, so please excuse any typographical, grammatical or structural errors.  The content is factually correct, but as more material is transcribed,  it will be added where relevant. If necessary, please set your browser to View or to Download. 

For additional downloads, select All Downloads or Perusal Scores from drop-down menu, above right, or Search for specific items.   Click images to enlarge. 

Please scroll down for more...

Downloads: 30


Shaman or Showman? 

George Lloyd in dialogue with his unconscious


Peter Davison examines Lloyd's personality and music in the context of his bohemian upbringing, his mystical beliefs and his use of alternative therapies in the wake of his wartime injuries.

When faced with the imaginative and technical difficulties of creating a large scale work of art while trying to earn a living, many artists and composers come to believe they never had a real choice, for their art has chosen them. Should they decline the challenge, they will likely suffer unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, as if the creative energies latent in the unconscious mind may not be blocked without consequence.”


In this 9000 word article, Peter Davison brings together several aspects of Lloyd's psychology - the influence of Carl Jung, the composer’s reliance on alternative therapies such as hypnosis and meditation to overcome his shell shock, and his use of semi-trance states in composition, all combined with a hard-edged practical realism.

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Pendulum cover WEB 

The Swing of the Pendulum:

George Lloyd and the Crisis of Romanticism

by Peter Davison


The composer George Lloyd (1913-98) was for many years an 'outsider'; his reputation damaged by the pendulum’s swing away from Romanticism towards extreme forms of Modernism.  In this extended article (15,000 words), musicologist Peter Davison, (previously Artistic Consultant to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall) charts the conflict between Romanticism and Modernism, explaining how modernist orthodoxy triumphed after the Second World War.


With the re-emergence of tonality and tuneful composition in our own times, this is the right moment to re-evaluate the remarkable life and work of George Lloyd, treating him as pivotal cultural figure.


Davison concludes: "I discovered a man of thoughtful integrity, a modest man of great talent, someone who was determined to be himself regardless of the pressures placed upon him. His success late in life was richly deserved, and his music shows that a romantic outlook can still be relevant in the contemporary world.”

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Bronze Horse 

King's Messenger 

A 3000 year old poem by Confucius, with a family connection


King’s Messenger was commissioned for the 1994 European Brass Band Championship. The work takes its title from a poem by Confucius, and the composer’s interest in the poem arose in part because the Odes of Confucius are believed to be the oldest authenticated songs in existence, but the poem also had a personal resonance with Lloyd's immediate family as his father and grandfather had both served as military couriers, carrying sensitive wartime intelligence information. 


His father Major William Lloyd was an Admiralty Courier, carrying top-secret code books to Royal Navy warships and submarines during World War Two.  His grandfather Captain Walter Lloyd carried out reconnaissance and gathered military intelligence during the Mount Lebanon Civil War of 1860, while serving on HMS Leopard.

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Fanny Powell Web312 

Frances Powell (1855-1921)

George Lloyd's grandmother - an American painter.


George Lloyd’s grandmother, Frances, was impractical at domestic work of any kind, did not see dust at all and lived in a terrible muddle. She was also an opera singer, a fine painter, a committed Theosophist and a pioneer early member of the St Ives Artists’ Colony. This is her story...and more to come.

First of three articles - please check out the others. 

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Fanny Powell Web311 

Frances Powell (1855 - 1921) - Paintings

New York - Paris - Rome - St Ives

We trace Frances' progress from training as an opera singer in New York, learning to paint in Paris,
her Bohemian life in Rome to the early days of the St Ives artists colony. 

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Fanny Powell Web31 

Frances Powell - Timelapse Postcards

Zennor, near St Ives, Cornwall


Frances painted a series of tempera landscapes around the village of Zennor when she lived at Bridge Cottage in the late 19th Century. These paintings have been reproduced as a set of postcards, which have been photographed against the original landscape to make an intriguing series of time lapse comparisons. 

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Stone Cross 

1893 - 2013 - George Lloyd - Bohemian St Ives and Celtic Connections

Born into an artists' colony in the far west


George Lloyd's father Will grew up in the bohemian artists' colony of St Ives, Cornwall, where he studied painting, wrote a book on Vincenzo Bellini, and was the Secretary of the pivotal St Ives Arts Club.  He inherited a fortune, married young, then lost most of it. He and his wife Prim, and his mother Frances were at the heart of the musical and artistic community in St Ives in its Edwardian heyday. George Lloyd was born into that Romantic and artistic otherworld less than a year before the cataclysm of the First World war. 

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GLL aged 15 

1913 - 1929  - George Lloyd - Education, of a kind

The making of a musician


George Lloyd suffered recurring bouts of rheumatic fever when he was a child. He did not attend school until he was 12 and left when he was 14, when he decided that he was going to be composer and demanded a proper musical education.  After a year at Chichester Cathedral he studied with violin virtuoso Albert Sammons, then composition with Lovelock at Trinity College, with Kitson at the Royal Collage and with Farjeon at the Royal Academy.  At the age of 18 he waved his professors goodbye, and struck out on his own, writing three symphonies before he was 21, and having them performed and broadcast by the BBC.
George Lloyd had arrived.

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1929 George Lloyd's violin
'Lady Emma Hamilton'

After being accepted as a pupil by Albert Sammons, it was clear that George needed a good instrument, and by extraordinary good fortune, a fine 18th Century violin made by John Betts, was found for him through a family connection.  The violin came with a letter, stating that it had once belonged to Lady Emma Hamilton.  Download the full story here. 

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George Bust 

George Lloyd - Bronze portrait bust

by sculptor Wilfred Dudeney RBS

In 1935, following the success of the opera Iernin, a London barrister, Mr Albert Ganz commissioned a young sculptor, Wilfred Dudeney to execute a bronze portrait head of the composer.  It was Dudeney's first commission after leaving art school. The bust was damaged by bombing during World War II, and 60 years after he created it, Wilfred Dudeney was commissioned to put it back together, so by a curious quirk of fate, it was also his last commission.  This is the story. 


For more information about Wilfred Dudeney's work, please visit


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George Lloyd - HMS Trinidad

Nightmare in the Arctic - The full story


A complete account of George Lloyd's experiences on HMS Trinidad,
including sea trials, Arctic convoys, the torpedo strike, PTSD, recovery and aftermath.
From letters, correspondence and first hand accounts.  


Image:  HMS Trinidad at sea, at speed. 1941
(She was fast - max 33 knots. Click to enlarge)



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George Lloyd - HMS Trinidad 

Arctic Convoys - Deployment timeline


As part of my research for a biography of the composer and RM Bandsman George Lloyd, I have found this excellent account of the movements of HMS TRINIDAD, from her commissioning in December 1941, through her deployment as convoy escort, patrolling against TIRPITZ, to her sinking in April 1942. Thanks to Naval History Net for their excellent site.



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George at Wittering EFFECT 

George Lloyd - Royal Marines, Torpedoes and PTSD 

- and the long, slow road back to health     (short version)


Jonathan Davidson, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Duke University, examines the life of George Lloyd in the context of his war-time trauma and the unorthodox but effective techniques he used to overcome it. 


This is a shortened version of a more detailed article which first appeared in Music & Medicine | 2018 Volume 10 Issue 1.   For copyright reasons the original article is available only to subscribers to The George Lloyd Society, or direct from Music and Medicine. 

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George Lloyd - Royal Marines, Torpedoes and PTSD 

- and the long, slow road back to health (full version)


Jonathan Davidson, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Duke University, examines the life of George Lloyd in the context of his war-time trauma and the unorthodox but effective techniques he used to overcome it. 

This article first appeared in Music & Medicine | 2018 | Volume 10 | Issue 1
Reprinted for members of the George Lloyd Society by permission.


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At West Wittering 

1945- 1949 - George Lloyd - Slow Recovery 

Switzerland and London


As soon as the war ended, Nancy took George to her home in Chateaux D'Oex, among the high mountains and valleys of Switzerland. Nancy worked as a chambermaid, while he recovered. After two years he was able to control his shaking enough to hold a pen and start writing again. After another 4 years he was well enough to return to London, with two new symphonies under his belt, looking for performances. 

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1949-1951 - George Lloyd - The Festival of Britain

Scoring John Socman


Within a few months of his return to England, George was elevated to the highest ranks of opera in England. Along with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, Lloyd and his father were commissioned to write an opera for the Festival of Britain. It took two years to write, and his opera was the only one of the three to be delivered on time, but the chaotic production caused another breakdown. 

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Ryewater Web 

1951-1964 - George Lloyd - Ryewater Gardens

Breakdown - and therapy through labour 


After the double hammer blow of the fiasco of John Socman and the death of his father, George's health collapsed. He lost himself in building a market garden business, and when he was functioning again, the world had moved on.  Modernism replaced Romanticism, and he could not get performances. He carried on composing, working for a few hours a day in the early morning, with little hope of performances, but in 1964 he found a great friend and ally, the virtuoso pianist John Ogdon. 

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Causley Pictures 

Mistress Lloyd's Fancy.... 

Charles Causley and George Lloyd - and Nancy

In 1956, Cornish poet Charles Causley and Cornish composer George Lloyd were commissioned by the BBC to make an opera,

The Burning Boy. The poet and composer dined and worked on the piece together at Ryewater.

Causley was clearly enamoured of Nancy’s skill with the icing sugar and wrote her a poem:

Mistress Lloyd's Fancy.

Here is how it happened... 

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Ogdon Web 

1964 - 1970 - George Lloyd - finding a market

Carnations, mushrooms, and performances

With the help of piano virtuoso John Ogdon, who came to him for lessons in composition, George found support from Sir Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. He began to write for the piano, producing three piano concertos and half a dozen large works for solo piano, and had the score of his 8th Symphony accepted for broadcast by the BBC. His flowers and mushrooms were getting top prices at Covent Garden Market - but only if he blessed the seed before it was planted. 

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2013 - George Lloyd - Centenary Press Kit

Macbeth Media Relations


Includes summary, fact sheet, and several features. 

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Scott Cantrell 

Scott Cantrell interviews George Lloyd

on the occasion of the Premiere of 11th Symphony 

in the Troy Music Hall, Albany, NY State, in 1989       



Lloyd was less guarded in interviews when he was 3000 miles away across the Atlantic, and with his name up in lights on a billboard outside the building. In this relaxed interview he discusses among other topics his composition technique, the state of musical education, the cultural divide with the BBC, and the structure of his 11th Symphony. 

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George Lloyd by A Pinkerton0 

Article from 20:20 Magazine
Ian MacDonald makes an unusual case for the relevance

of Lloyd's traditionalist values 

"Lloyd’s Celtic/Hellenistic otherworldliness explains much about him which academic analyses of his style and formal techniques can't. For example, his traditionalist sense of 'meaning' in music and life, naive to the modernist, clearly derives from intimations of a spiritual dimension co-existent with the material one. The same can be said of his ideas about creative inspiration, so similar to those of mediums:  "Something comes into my head and I see either a colour or a sound. It's not at all intellectual. I don’t just manipulate notes. I just get a feeling and then the notes come along." 

Possibly Lloyd is himself mediumistic (his childhood illnesses and experience of shellshock point that way). This might explain why his inspiration, dependent, like a medium’s 'communications', on fluctuations in his physical vitality. It would also account for Lloyd's trance like Schubertian expansiveness.  While this will seem like nonsense to militant modernists, it needs pointing out that their scepticism, whether philosophical or artistic, explains little of any interest about an anomaly like George Lloyd. If he is truly ‘en rapport’ with another era - a composer of Elgar's time alive and writing in, and about, our own - we ought, rather than sneer, to be grateful for the alternative view.   For one thing, it's not as if his contemporary competitors are composing so much that's worth getting excited about. For another, it's a safe bet that the best of Lloyd's music will outlive them all."

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 The Lloyd family in 18th Century Manchester:

A Trustee of Chetham's,

a founder physician of the Manchester Infirmary,
a Jacobin barrister

and an anti-slavery campaigner

Composer George Lloyd identified as a Celt.  His maternal grandmother Annie Dwyer was Irish and his paternal grandmother Frances  Powell was American with part Welsh, and part Polish ancestry. The male line of Lloyds was an ancient Welsh family, which took great pride in their thousand year Welsh genealogy. They left Wales in the 17th Century and established themselves in Manchester, where they became prominent radicals, reformers and activists. 

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HMS Trinidad art 

Am Sailing to the Westward 

Doctoral Thesis at University of Salford

This short article introduces Richard Harvey and plans for his Doctoral thesis 

and a collaboration with the George Lloyd Music Library and Archive



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Young Person's Guide to composers_Page_1 

Felicitations of the Season to all our friends and followers.
Guide to composers

This 'Guide to the composers' turned up in our archive today, so I have made it into a greetings card to download.

(80 composers get the treatment - see pages 2 to 4 below.)

Best wishes for a peaceful Christmas, and hopes for Peace in the World in 2024...

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