Death of a British composer

Death of a British composer


norman lebrecht

November 22, 2021

Family and friends have announced the death of Gordon Crosse, a Britten protégé who wrote dramatic and evocative works for orchestra and voices in an experimental but mostly tonal mode.

Crosse, who was 84, was prone to literary inspirations. Memories of Morning: Night is based on Jean Rhys’ novel Wide Sargasso Sea; World Within is an Emily Brontë tribute.

Aldeburgh staged both of his operas, Purgatory, and The Grace of Todd.

He wrote incidental music for Laurence Olivier’s last Shakepeare performance, King Lear.


  • DML says:

    Sad to hear. Gordon was very kind to me as a young composer. Very fond of his “Changes”.

    • Peter X says:

      And so am I. Changes’ is a lovely work and the performance on Lyrita (with the superb voices of Jennifer Vyvyan and John Shirley Quirck) still impressive.
      If I’m not mistaken parts of the King Lear music is re -used in the magical finale of Changes.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    A lovely man. I was privileged to know him in the last few years, and even more so to be the dedicatee of one of his piano pieces – ‘Ron’s Toyes’ – he came to instrument late in life. We had some wonderful chats, often quite heated when it came to politics – he was an old – Labour man through and through, but we shared a passion for things Italian (food, the music of Dallapiccola). And in spite of the age difference, we both had Oxford tutorials with the same man, Dr Bernard Rose, him in the late-1950’s, me in the late 1970s. Rest in peace, dear man. x