Humphrey Searle

Last updated 09 January 2020

Humphrey Searle (1915-1982)
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Humphrey Searle

Born: Thursday 26th August 1915
Died: Wednesday 12th May 1982 (age: 66)


Humphrey Searle  was a British composer.

He was born in Oxford where he was a classics scholar before studying - somewhat hesitantly - with John Ireland at the Royal College of Music in London, after which he went to Vienna on a six month scholarship to become a private pupil of Anton Webern, which became decisive in his composition career.

Searle was one of the foremost pioneers of serial music in the United Kingdom, and used his role as a producer at the BBC from 1946 to 1948 to promote it. He was General Secretary of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 1947 to 1949.

Works of note include a Poem for 22 Strings (1950), premiered at Darmstadt, a Gogol opera, The Diary of a Madman (1958, awarded the first prize at UNESCO's International Rostrum of Composers in 1960), and five symphonies (the first of which was commercially recorded by Sir Adrian Boult).

Searle wrote the monographs Twentieth Century Counterpoint and The Music of Franz Liszt. He also developed the most authoritative catalogue of Liszt's works, which are frequently identified using Searle's numbering system.

Searle also composed scores for film and television, including incidental music for the 1963 feature The Haunting and the 1965 Doctor Who story The Myth Makers. 

He died in London. Among his notable pupils were composers Hugh Davidson, Brian Elias,Michael Finnissy, Geoffrey King, and Graham Newcater.

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA