Born: 1904; Gipsland, Victoria
Died: 1959; England
Hubert Clifford was born in 1904 in Victoria, Australia. He showed two keen interests growing up, science and music, and ended up simultaneously pursuing a degree in chemistry at the University of Melbourne and studying at the Melbourne Conservatory of Music. The latter won out and by his late twenties, he was well known as a conductor in Victoria, making a particularly strong impression with the local opera company. He studied composition withRead more Fritz Hart, upon whose advice he emigrated to England to study with Ralph Vaughan Williams. Clifford worked as a music teacher and was later employed by the BBC as a music and broadcasting official with responsibilities including the performance of music for broadcast by short wave to distant corners of the British Empire. Clifford's first major composition was A Kentish Suite (1935), a five-movement work intended for student orchestras. Ebullient, extrovert, and fully tonal, this piece was inspired by seventeenth century religious music and also in folk songs associated with the Kentish countryside. A much more serious and complex work, the Symphony 1940, followed at the outset of the war, its two years of composition concluding with music written during the earliest German air raids upon London. In its vitally rhythmic opening and closing movements, the symphony showed the strong influence of William Walton, to whose work he professed great affinity. The symphony was presented by the BBC in fragmentary form, its four movements recorded for broadcast at different times and under different conductors during and immediately after the war. By then, Clifford had gone to work for film mogul Sir Alexander Korda as the music director at London Films, supervising and commissioning the scores for such pictures as Anna Karenina (1948) and The Third Man (1949), among many others. Clifford returned to the BBC in the mid-'50s as the director of light music, though he continued to work in films as well until 1958. During his final decade, he was closely associated with light classical and mood music, a fact that resulted in the neglect of Clifford's serious music output, which was largely forgotten after his death in 1959. This situation was only rectified at the start of the twenty first century with interest on the part of the BBC and Chandos Records in rediscovering and recording the work of previously overlooked British composers. Read less
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