Rutland Boughton


Rutland Boughton was born in Aylesbury on 23 January 1878 and died in London on 25 January 1960. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Sir Charles V Stanford and Walford Davies and from 1905 to 1911 became professor of singing and choral conductor at the then Birmingham and Midland Institute of Music.

His study of the literary works of Ruskin, William Morris, Edward Carpenter and Bernard Shaw drew him towards socialism but he developed a working relationship with the poet Reginald Buckley who inspired him to write music-dramas of Wagnerian scale based on the legend of King Arthur.

He eventually moved to Glastonbury where in 1914 he established his highly successful music festivals and summer schools. These came to an end in 1926 as a result of the composer’s support for the Miner’s Lockout and in the following year he and his family moved to Kilcot in Gloucestershire where he continued to compose and run local festivals.

Boughton is best remembered today for his music-drama The Immortal Hour which broke a world record of runs in London in the 1920s and 30s. His other works of note for the stage include the Christmas choral-drama Bethlehem, The Queen of Cornwall, based on Thomas Hardy’s play, and the Alkestis based on Greek mythology. He also wrote three symphonies; a number of concertos; choral music; songs and chamber music, much of which now appear on commercial recordings.