Patric Standford

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Glasgow 2011

Patric Standford (5 February 1939 – 23 April 2014) was an English composer, pedagogue and writer.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Patric John Standford was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and had a Quaker education at Ackworth School in West Yorkshire. He began his working life as a legal accountant and served in the RAF at 617 Squadron in Lincolnshire before arranging his own admission to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London in 1961, where he studied composition with Edmund Rubbra and Raymond Jones. While a student, he was awarded both the Carl Meyer Prize and the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for composition.[2]


In 1964, Standford was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship,[3] enabling him to travel to Venice and study with Gian Francesco Malipiero, and later to Warsaw where he studied with Witold Lutosławski. In 1967 he joined the professorial staff of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and from then divided his working life between composing, conducting, teaching and musical journalism. When Edmund Rubbra retired, Standford was appointed the School's principal composition professor and was awarded a Fellowship of the Guildhall School of Music (FGSM) in 1972. In 1978, he gained a master's degree in composition at Goldsmith's College, London University.

Standford became chairman (1977–1980) of the Composers' Guild of Great Britain (since amalgamated into the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA)) and chairman (1980–1992) of the British Music Information Centre (since amalgamated into Sound and Music). In those capacities, he organised British music representation at various international events, including the Nordic Music Committee (NOMUS) in Helsinki and the Latin-American Festival in Venezuela in collaboration with the BBC.

Standford held the post of Head of Music at the Leeds University College Bretton Hall from 1980 to 1993, while continuing to compose, write and appear as a regular jury member for competitive choral festivals in Hungary, France and Estonia.

After the death of his wife in 2011, Standford made his home in Suffolk and continued to work avidly there, composing, writing and teaching until his sudden death in April 2014, aged 75.


Standford's music covers most genres, predominantly the orchestra. He wrote his Easter oratorio Christus Requiem for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama's principal Allen Percival and the City of London in 1973. Christus Requiem brought together the full orchestral, choral and dramatic forces of the Guildhall School for its first performance in St. Paul's Cathedral, in the Spring of that year. This oratorio received the Yugoslavian Government award in 1974.

His orchestral works have received the following international awards. His first symphony The Seasons, written in 1972 gained the Premio Città di Trieste award. His Symphony No. 2 was awarded the Óscar Esplá prize for composition in Spain. In 1983, Standford was awarded the Ernest Anserment Prize of the City of Geneva for his choral symphony Toward Paradise. The 5th Symphony was commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in 1984.

Orchestral works also include Prelude to a Fantasy: The Naiades, recorded in 2012 along with his Cello Concerto, performed by Raphael Wallfisch and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones. Other works include music for chamber groups, Five French Folksongs written for and performed by the Nash Ensemble of London, Taikayoku: Symphony No. 4 a work for two pianos and percussion and music designed for elementary players like Holiday Memories. Standford was commissioned to write a number of pieces for the Guildhall graded examinations (now Trinity College London). Choral works range from larger-scale choral works like Christus Requiem and The Prayer of Saint Francis, to unaccompanied pieces including the Mass for Hildegard of Bingen,[4] recorded by the BBC Singers in 2013, more intimate works including the carol This Day and Stabat mater[5] performed and broadcast by the BBC Singers on BBC Radio 3.

Standford continued to compose up until his death. Works include Recorder Quintet commissioned by John Turner, recorded and premiered at the Rawsthorne Festival in 2014. Anthem commissioned by Elis Pehkonen, premiered at the William Alwyn Festival 2014. He had also revised his great work Christus Requiem with plans for performance at Norwich or Chichester Cathedrals.

Among Standford's pupils were Barry Guy, Jerry Lanning, Lionel Sainsbury, de:Malcolm Dedman and Gary Higginson.


Standford contributed articles and reviews to Choir and Organ. From 1980 to 2008, he was music critic for the Yorkshire Post, writing features and revues.[6][7] He also wrote a series of lively articles entitled Provocative Thoughts for Music & Vision Magazine[8][9][10][11][12] and a monthly blog for the Open College of the Arts. In 1992, Standford published Projects: A Course in Musical Composition and in 2008 he devised and wrote the composition study course for the Open College of the Arts.


1972 Premio Cittá di Trieste for Symphony No 1
1974 Oscar Espla Prize for Symphony No 2
1976 Yugoslavian Solidarity Award, Skopje for Christus Requiem
1982 Evelyn Glennie Percussion Award for Taikyoku: Symphony No. 4
1985 City of Geneva 'Ernest Ansermet Prize' for Toward Paradise
1997 Budapest International Composers' Award for The Prayer of St Francis
1999 International ClarinetFest Prize for Fantasy Quintet

Key works[edit]

String Quartet No 1 (1965)
Gitanjali: four Tagore Songs (1966)
Ballet: Celestial Fire (1971, orchestra)
Symphony No 1: The seasons (1972, orchestra)
Christus Requiem (1973), soli, chorus, orchestra)
Symphony No 2 (1974, orchestra)
String Quartet No 2 (1973)
Symphony No 3: Toward Paradise (1975–82, chorus, orchestra)
Taikyoku: Symphony No 4 (1976, 2 pianos and percussion)
A Christmas Carol Symphony (1978, orchestra)
Ancient Verses (1978, chorus and percussion)
Symphony No 5 (1984, BBC commission, orchestra, solo soprano)
Divertimento for violin and piano (1986)
Mass for Hildegard of Bingen (1988, SATB)
Six Piano Pieces: Faeries (1992)
The Prayer of Saint Francis: A Masque for chorus and orchestra (1996)
Concertino for harpsichord and small orchestra (1999)
The Emperor's Orchestra: a story for children (2001, narrator, orchestra)
Five French Folksongs for wind quintet (2004)
Serenata for two guitars and ensemble (2006)
Six Preludes for guitar (2008)
Responses for Tenebrae: 18 motets for a cappella choir (2010)


Symphony No 1; Cello Concerto; Prelude to a Fantasy – Naxos 8.571356
A Christmas Carol Symphony – Naxos 8.557099
Recorder Quintet on The Recorder Collection, Vol. 2 The Proud Recorder, John Turner/The Manchester Chamber Ensemble - Prima Facie PFCD038
The Prayer of Saint Francis - In Memoriam Zoltán Kodály Winners of the First International Composers' Competition BR 0156 (DDD)
Ballet Suite: Celestial Fire Best of British Light Music Resonance: CDRSB502 and Light Music Discoveries 3 CDWHL2128


  1. ^ Stanley Sadie, ed. (1980). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Vol 18 Spiridion to Tin Whistle ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers Limited. p. 68. ISBN 0-333-23111-2.
  2. ^ "Royal Philharmonic Society Past Recipients". Archived from the original on 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Mendelssohn Scholars".
  4. ^ "A Mass for Hildegard of Bingen for chorus by Patric Standford". Afternoon on 3. BBC Singers and Symphony Orchestra. 25 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Stabat mater by Patric Standford". Live Afternoon on 3: Music for Holy Week with the BBC Singers. 5 April 2012. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Review of Shakespeare Requiem by Patric Standford". Yorkshire Post. December 4, 2008.
  7. ^ "Evgenia Rubinova, Leeds Piano Competition Winner by Patric Standford". Yorkshire Post. 5 April 2008. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  8. ^ Standford, Patric. "Provocative Thoughts". Music and Vision.
  9. ^ Standford, Patric (2004). "'Reflecting the Man': an appreciation of composer Petr Eben". Choir and Organ. 12 (4).
  10. ^ Standford, Patric (2004). "Finnish Treasure: the Tapiola Chamber Choir". Choir and Organ. 12 (2).
  11. ^ Standford, Patric (2003). "Edward Cowie and the BBC Singers at Huddersfield". Choir and Organ. 11 (2).
  12. ^ Standford, Patric (2002). "A James Wood profile: Meeting the challenge". Choir and Organ. 10 (3).

Further reading[edit]

  • Kennedy, Michael (2006). The Oxford Dictionary of Music, second edition, revised, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-861459-4
  • Larner, Gerald. (2001). "Standford, Patric" The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, ed. by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Jacobs, Arthur (1990). The New Penguin Dictionary of Music. Penguin
  • East, Leslie. (1986). "Standford and his Fifth Symphony". The Musical Times 127 (No.1715)
  • Foreman, Lewis (1975). British Music Now: A Guide to the Work of Younger Composers. London: Elek
  • Larner, Gerald. (1973). "Patric Standford" The Musical Times 114 (No.1561)
  • Routh, Francis. (1972). "Contemporary British Music". London: Macdonald

External links[edit]