John Gardner

English composer John Linton Gardner was born in Manchester on 2 March 1917 and studied at Exeter College, Oxford. Hubert Foss of Oxford University Press gave Gardner an early break, publishing the latter's Intermezzo for Organ in 1936 and introducing him to Arthur Benjamin.

During World War II, he worked as a bandmaster and then as a navigator with Transport Command, and began to accumulate ideas for his first symphony during this time. When peace came, he worked as a repetiteur at Covent Garden, which led to John Barbirolli discovering Gardner's symphony and to a hearing at the 1951 Cheltenham Festival. This led to many commissions, and to full time work as a composer.

Later he taught at the Royal Academy of Music, was Director of Music at St Paul's Girls' School and was briefly Director of Music at Morley College. These and other teaching commitments produced many compositions, and Gardner left us, at his death aged ninety-four on 12 December 2011 in Hampshire, with several symphonies, operas, concertos and cantatas, and much choral, chamber, organ, brass and orchestral music. He is perhaps best remembered for his adaptation for St Paul's of the traditional carol Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.

Another John Gardner (John Champlin Gardner Jr, 1933-1982) was the American novelist who wrote Grendel, which became an opera by Elliot Goldenthal. There's also an English novelist with the same name, John Edmund Gardner (1926-2007).


A selection of articles about John Gardner

CD Spotlight. Sensitive and Thoughtful - More Christmas music from Clifton Cathedral, heard by Keith Bramich. '... this 1997 choir has a crisper sound than its 1987 vintage, and the ensemble is neater.'

Ensemble. Bouncy Vitality - The Sitwell Singers' Christmas concert, heard by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Cogent Achievements - Peter Maxwell Davies' tenth symphony and other British music, heard by Roderic Dunnett

CD Spotlight. Mice in the Manger - A selection of Christmas music, enjoyed by George Balcombe. '... an amazing collection.'

Ensemble. Vocally and Visually Spectacular - Maria Nockin at the première of Goldenthal's opera 'Grendel, Transcendence of the Great Big Bad'

Record Box - Skilful manoeuvres - The art of John Gardner, with Basil Ramsey