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Ivor Gurney

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Biography

Ivor Gurney (August 28, 1890 - December 26, 1937) was an english art-song composer, also known for his poetry. Born in Gloucester, he was good friends with Herbert Howells - both learnt to play the organ at Gloucester Cathedral. Winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, Gurney began his studies there in 1911. However, Gurney’s studies were interrupted by World War I. Whilst abroad he was both wounded and gassed. After the war, Gurney returned to London to resume his music studies at the RCM with Vaughan Williams.

The depression that plagued Gurney throughout his life became more serious as his years progressed, and he had a number of breakdowns. By 1922, his condition had deteriorated to such a point that his family had him declared insane. He spent the last 15 years of his life in mental hospitals

He died 26 December 1937 at the age of 47, leaving behind a great store of unpublished songs, many of which were arranged for publication posthumiously by Gerald Finzi. Gurney wrote hundreds of poems and more than 300 songs, as well as instrumental music.

His most famous works include ‘Sleep’, on of his five Elizabethan Songs , and the song-cycles Ludlow and Teme and The Western Playland, both settings of poetry by A. E. Housman.

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