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Vernon Handley (1930 - 2008)

Vernon Handley studied philology at Oxford University before entering the Guildhall School of Music in London to study music. He made his conducting debut with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and shortly afterwards, in 1962, was appointed chief conductor of the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra. Initially this group was largely amateur in membership, but under Handley’s leadership, which lasted until 1983, it gradually became wholly professional and played an extraordinarily wide repertoire as well as making several première recordings of unfamiliar British works. The first of these was a pioneering account of Sir Arnold Bax’s Symphony No. 4, which appeared in 1965 on the Concert Artist label, and did much to establish the reputations of both conductor and orchestra. Between 1966 and 1972 Handley taught at the Royal College of Music as professor of conducting and orchestra, frequently working during this period as an assistant to Sir Adrian Boult, whose restrained conducting style he consciously adopted.



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