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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » B » Berkeley, Lennox

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Lennox Berkeley (5/12/1903 - 12/26/1989)

Of aristocratic English and remoter French ancestry, Lennox Berkeley turned his serious attention to music while at Oxford, having his first professional lessons thereafter with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, on the advice of Ravel. He enjoyed early friendship with his younger contemporary Benjamin Britten, some of whose musical predilections he shared; he largely avoided the national pastoral trends of some contemporary English music. He was knighted in 1974.


Berkeley’s first opera, Nelson, was staged at Sadler’s Wells in 1954. In the same year A Dinner Engagement was mounted at Aldeburgh, where the third of his four operas, Ruth, was given in 1956, followed in 1967 by Castaway.

Orchestral Music

In 1937 Berkeley collaborated with Britten in Mont Juic, a suite of Catalan dances. Later orchestral compositions include concertos for piano, for flute, for violin and for guitar. He also wrote four symphonies.

Vocal and Choral Music

Berkeley’s choral music ranges from the oratorio Jonah of 1935, which he later withdrew, to settings for the Catholic Latin liturgy, to which he himself was devoted, and for the Church of England.

Chamber and Instrumental Music

Berkeley wrote pieces for violin and piano, for solo piano, and music for various instrumental ensembles, including string quartets and a wind quintet.



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