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 Vernon George “Tod” Handley

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Vernon George “Tod” Handley

  • Birth 11 Nov 1930 Enfield, London Borough of Enfield, Greater London, England
  • Death 10 Sep 2008
  • Burial Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, Wales
  • Memorial ID 29836243

Symphony Conductor. A prolific maestro, he is remembered for championing the music of British composers. Raised in London by a musical family of modest means, he got his nickname from the way he walked as a child and taught himself conducting thru scores and recordings. After military service, he attended Balliol College, Oxford, then worked odd-jobs while continuing his self-study and conducting any amateur orchestra that would invite him. Eventually he arranged to audition for Sir Adrian Boult who took him as a protege and from whom he learned his minimalist technique and lack of showmanship. (Sir Adrian famously said: "Remember, you're playing to the blind man in the audience") His first professional engagement was with the Bournemouth Symphony in 1961; from 1962 to 1983 he was conductor of the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra then in 1983 he was named associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the years, Handley led the Amsterdam Philharmonic, the Ulster Orchestra, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and was guest conductor of the Melbourne Symphony from 1992 until 1995. In January 2007 he was named conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra; while he conducted the works of composers of all nationalities, he always included at least one British piece in his programs and was noted for performing the works of Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Arnold Bax, Sir Malcolm Arnold, as well as Bantock, Simpson, and others. He received three "Gramophone" awards, won the Arnold Bax Memorial Medal for Conducting in 1962, was bestowed several honorary doctorates, was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2004, and in 2007 was presented with a Classical BRIT Lifetime Achievement Award. In his later years he was a noted ornithologist and photographer. Handley performed at the BBC Proms a month prior to his death and died after a protracted illness leaving a large legacy of around 150 recordings which were made with several different orchestras for various labels.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 16 Sep 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 29836243
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Vernon George “Tod” Handley (11 Nov 1930–10 Sep 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 29836243, citing St Bridget's Churchyard, Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, Wales ; Maintained by Find A Grave .