Music for Harvest Thanksgiving – Sunday October 10 2021

Missa brevis – Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)










Agnus Dei:


For all its charm and elegance, Sir Lennox Randall Francis Berkeley’s unique compositional voice is marked in his sacred choral music by an inner conviction borne of a strong personal faith. In this regard he mirrored his lifelong friend Francis Poulenc. Berkeley’s legacy is a significant body of sacred choral music familiar across the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. The simplicity of texture in this work, written in 1960, combined with the conservative dimensions of the Missa brevis form, belies a consummate musical technique and affinity with the text.


After studying at Merton College, Oxford, Berkeley travelled to Paris in 1927 to study composition under Nadia Boulanger and Maurice Ravel, the latter being cited as one of Berkeley’s biggest influences with regards to technical development. He also enjoyed a long artistic association and friendship with Benjamin Britten, collaborating on a number of works. He held the chair of Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music from 1946 to 1968, where his pupils included Richard Rodney Bennett and John Tavener.


Gerald Harder