Music

Percy Whitlock

Born 1 June 1903. Died 1 May 1946.

Biography

Percy William Whitlock (1 June 1903 – 1 May 1946) was an English organist and post-romantic composer.

Whitlock was born in Chatham, Kent. A student of Vaughan Williams at London's Royal College of Music, Whitlock quickly arrived at a musical idiom that combined elements of his teacher's output and that of Elgar. His lush harmonic style also bore traces of Gershwin and other popular composers of the 1920s. Stanford, Rachmaninov and Roger Quilter are other important stylistic influences. Like Vaughan Williams and Frederick Delius, he often used themes that sounded like folk songs but were, in fact, original creations.

From 1921 to 1930 Whitlock was assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral in Kent. He served as Director of Music at St Stephen's Church, Bournemouth for the next five years, combining this from 1932 with the role of that town's borough organist, in which capacity he regularly played at the local Pavilion Theatre. After 1935 he worked for the Pavilion Theatre full-time. A tireless railway enthusiast, he wrote at length and with skill about his interest. Sometimes, for both prose and music, he used the pseudonym Kenneth Lark. He worked closely with the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra and gave dozens of live BBC broadcasts between 1933-46.

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