William Glock

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Sir William Frederick Glock, CBE (3 May 1908 – 28 June 2000) was a British music critic and musical administrator.


Glock was born in London. He read history at the University of Cambridge and was an organ scholar at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.[1] He studied piano with Artur Schnabel in Berlin from 1930 to 1933.[2]

Glock was music critic of the Daily Telegraph in 1934, and then of The Observer (1934–1945). He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.[3]

In 1949 he founded the music journal The Score, and served as its editor until 1961. He later became music critic at the New Statesman, from 1958 to 1959.

Glock became the first director of the Bryanston Summer School of Music in 1948.[4] On the encouragement of Schnabel, he founded the Dartington International Summer School in 1953, and was its director until 1979. The summer school put on performances of works by contemporary composers and courses for musicians. Notable participants included the Amadeus Quartet, Nadia Boulanger, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Boris Blacher and George Enescu.

He later served as Director of the Bath Festival from 1976 to 1984.

William Glock served as BBC Controller of Music from 1959 to 1972. From 1960 to 1973, he was also Controller of The Proms, and took over personal single leadership of The Proms whereas formerly a committee had been in charge of them.[5] During his tenure, Glock arranged performances and commissions of works by many contemporary composers, such as Arnold, Berio, Harrison Birtwistle, Boulez, Carter, Dallapiccola, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gerhard, Henze, Ligeti, Lutosławski, Lutyens, Maw, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen, and Tippett. Davies dedicated three works to Glock: Symphony No. 1 (1976), Unbroken Circle (1984) and Mishkenot (1988). In Proms programmes Glock expanded as well the presence of music by past composers such as Purcell, Cavalli, Monteverdi, Byrd, Palestrina, Dufay, Dunstaple and Machaut, as well as less-often performed works of Bach and Haydn.[6]

A supporter of modernism, Glock was accused of discouraging performances of new music written in a traditional, tonal style. Petroc Trelawny noted, "Rumour has long had it that he held a ‘blacklist’ of banned composers; musicians who didn’t fit his ideals. Arnold Bax, Aaron Copland, Edmund Rubbra and Karol Szymanowski loom large on this supposed list."[7] His obituarist Stephen Plaistow commented that when he took over, "BBC music was becalmed. I remember Peter Heyworth in the Observer in the 1950s berating the old music division for giving us always the latest cow-and-gate cantata and Cheltenham symphony, but rarely the latest Stravinsky...the thrust of Glock's policy was obvious, and omissions there may have been, but the notion of such a list is absurd."

Glock published a memoir, Notes in Advance, in 1991. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1964 and knighted in 1970 for his services to musical life.

In 1984, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) by the University of Bath.[8]

He continued to curate concert series into his eighties, including a 1993 series of Franz Schubert concerts at the South Bank Centre.[9]

Glock was married twice. His first wife was the painter Clement Davenport (née Hale) (1913?-1957?), and they had a daughter, Oriel, who died in 1980. This marriage ended in divorce. Glock and his second wife, Anne Geoffroy-Dechaume, married in 1952. The marriage lasted until her death in 1995.

Sir William Glock died in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Oxfordshire.


  1. ^ Stephen Plaistow (2000-06-29). "Sir William Glock". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Sir William Glock (obituary)". Telegraph. 2001-08-23 (updated version). Retrieved 2009-02-07.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Robert Ponsonby (2000-07-01). "Obituary: Sir William Glock". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  4. ^ Warrack, John (October 1950). "The Bryanston Summer School of Music". The Musical Times. 91 (1292): 377–381. JSTOR 935817. 
  5. ^ Heyworth, Peter (December 1988). "Sir William Glock at 80: A Tribute". Tempo. 167: 19–21. doi:10.1017/s0040298200024517. JSTOR 945211. 
  6. ^ Bayan Northcott (1994-09-03). "Small ripples in a calm sea: As the 100th season of Henry Wood Proms sails into port, Bayan Northcott wonders if the programming is running out of steam". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  7. ^ Trelawny, Petroc. "Sir William Glock of the BBC: hero or villain of British music?". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Stephen Johnson (1993-01-30). "Glock and spiel: William Glock brought Bach to the Proms and Boulez to the BBC. Now, he tells Stephen Johnson, he is bringing Schubert to the South Bank". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-04-17.