Hurst was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1926, of Romanian and Russian parentage. He studied at Bishops College School in Lennoxville, Quebec and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada.
Hurst acted as an associate conductor for the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult for some time in the early 1950s. He was the chief conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra (later the BBC Philharmonic) from 1958 to 1968. In 1956 he took part in the London Philharmonic tour of Russia. His conducting work with the BBC Northern included the first Manchester performance of Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder in February 1966, and also the premiere of Thomas Pitfield's Concerto lirico for violin and orchestra.
Hurst formed the Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 1968 and was their artistic adviser until 1974. With the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, he led the first London performance of the Second Symphony of Malcolm Williamson on 31 October 1969. He was also the principal guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Hurst's recordings include Wagner operatic orchestral extracts with the New Philharmonia, The Planets with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, suites from King Arthur and Starlight Express by Elgar and English string music with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and Elgar's First Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic.
- "Scottish conductor George Hurst dies at 86". BBC News. 2012-09-17.
- September 16, 2012 (2012-09-16). "A quiet British maestro has died". Artsjournal.com. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- Boult AC. My Own Trumpet. Hamish Hamilton, London, 1973, p. 151.
- Kennedy, Michael, "Reports: Manchester" (May 1966). The Musical Times, 107 (1479): pp. 425–429.
- Turner, John, "In Memoriam Thomas Pitfield: Master of Arts" (Spring 2000). The Musical Times, 141 (1870): pp. 9–14.
- Cole, Hugo, "Music in London: Orchestral - BSO/Hurst" (December 1969). The Musical Times, 110 (1522): pp. 1261–1271.
- "George Hurst". Telegraph (London). 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
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