Gordon Crosse (1937 - 2021)
2nd December 2021News NMC Recordings
We have lost another composer from the outstanding generation of the 1930s: Gordon Crosse has died at the age of 84. As a composer of three operas and other music theatre works (in collaboration with Ted Hughes) he was regarded as the natural heir to Britten, and Purgatory and The Grace of Todd were highly successful achievements of the late 1960s. But they have largely failed to stay in the repertory, and one reason for this must be Gordon’s withdrawal from composition in the 1980s.
He became a skilled computer programmer, and it seemed as if he had abandoned composing altogether. One of his last major pieces at that time was the remarkable work for cello and piano, Wavesongs (1983), but when we recorded it in 1994 he was reluctant to be involved. For the major retrospective CD which we recorded with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins in 1997 he made excuses for not coming to the sessions; but when he finally came to hear Memories of Morning: Night he was moved and delighted by the reception he got from the BBCSO players, who he had imagined would have forgotten him.
We were very proud that he agreed to write for the NMC Songbook in 2007, and that this marked his return to composition, with many works following in subsequent years. He had great warmth of personality, and never expressed regret at the way his career, initially so promising, had failed to develop in the way he must have hoped. But we are left with a major body of work, which eminently deserves rediscovery.
Photo credit: Marc Yeats, 2019