About Michael Hurd

Michael Hurd (1928–2006)

Michael Hurd was a composer, writer and broadcaster with an international reputation. He lived for many years in Liss, and throughout that time was an enthusiastic contributor to the musical life of Petersfield and the surrounding area.

Michael’s music sold across the world. The cantatas for that he wrote for children in the 1960s, such as Jonah-Man Jazz and Hip Hip Horatio broke new ground, introducing a jazzy and witty element that appealed to young people and teachers in English-speaking countries from the UK to Australia. He also wrote highly effective choral and instrumental music, describing himself modestly as ‘not an important composer, but a useful one’.

As a writer and editor, he promoted the music of twentieth-century British composers including Ivor Gurney and Rutland Boughton as well as better-known figures such as Britten, Vaughan Williams and Tippett, and he wrote accessible introductions to classical music for young readers.

Michael was born in Gloucester on 19 December 1928. After education at the Crypt School in Gloucester and National Service, he read music at Pembroke College, Oxford, studying with Sir Thomas Armstrong and Dr Bernard Rose and privately with Sir Lennox Berkeley. From 1953 to 1960 he was Professor of Theory at the Royal Marines School of Music. The rest of his career was spent as a freelance composer, writer and conductor. Settling in Liss in 1961, he threw himself whole-heartedly into local cultural life.

Michael’s first association with Petersfield Musical Festival was as an adjudicator in 1966. Soon he was conducting the Youth Day concerts. He joined the committee in 1971, serving as chairman from 1984 to 1990 and then as President until 2006. The Festival benefited hugely from his musical expertise, his understanding of amateur musicians and his wicked sense of humour.

Alongside his participation in the Festival, Michael played a leading part in the town’s musical theatre groups. In 1970 he began a 28-year association with Petersfield Operatic Society as conductor of its annual productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. A few years later he also became conductor of the Petersfield Hi-Lights, reviving forgotten English musicals of an earlier era alongside popular classics and Broadway blockbusters.

The Michael Hurd Fund for Young Musicians was set up in Michael’s memory after a tribute concert in 2007, to support young musicians within the catchment area of the Festival through grants and events.

You can read more about Michael and his work at http://www.michaelhurd.org.uk.

“to promote, improve, develop and maintain the appreciation of music…”