Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989) is one of a generation of composers who sought their musical inspiration outside England. Although he graduated from Merton College, Oxford, in 1926 (where one of his peers was Auden), his subject was modern languages and it seems that his musical study was limited to organ lessons with Sir William Harris. Berkeley's mother's family lived in France and his regular visits culminated in the young composer showing some of his scores to Maurice Ravel. Ravel encouraged him to study with Nadia Boulanger who, in turn, encouraged him to work hard at strict counterpoint. Berkeley's exposure to Stravinsky's neo-classicism and his study of counterpoint have led to some very particular features in his music: the anthem The Lord is my Shepherd
, for example, is often written strictly in four parts, including the treble soloist's part. The vocal parts, although not imitative, all have a life of their own and show the composer's penchant for melody. Berkeley knew (and was influenced by) Britten, Stravinsky and Poulenc amongst others and in turn has influenced many composers through his own teaching, notably Moor, Bennett, Bedford and Tavener.
The Lord is my Shepherd (Op 91 nº 1) was written in 1975 for the 900th anniversary of the Foundation of Chichester Cathedral and is dedicated to the Very Reverend Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester.
from notes by William McVicker © 1995