Obituary: Composer Gordon Crosse Passes at 84

By Nicolas Quiroga
(Credit: Marc Yeats 2019)

English composer Gordon Crosse has passed away on Nov. 21, 2021. He was 84.

Born on December 1, 1937 in the industrial town of Bury, near Manchester, Crosse’s musical education as a child was sporadic. However, when he was 12-years-old, as a student at Cheadle Hulme School, he began to improvise on a public piano at school, launching him into a career in music. From there he decided to take lessons to be able to write his improvisations.

After a friend asked him to write a piece for violin and piano, Crosse discovered that he wanted to be a composer at exactly the same moment that he discovered that he wanted to be a musician. He then went to Oxford University to study with Egon Wellesz and Bernard Rose and later spent several years studying in Italy. Upon his return to England, he taught at various universities, including King’s College, Cambridge and was invited as a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Crosse wrote several operas including “The Story of Vasco” and “Purgatory.” He also composed a series of orchestral works and numerous chamber works. His last known composition was “Brief Encounter” for oboe d’amore, recorder, and string orchestra, completed in 2009. In that year, he also completed a Viola Concerto and Fantasia on “Ca’ the Yowes.” His last work for voice was “Wintersong” for six singers and option percussion, completed in 1986. He wrote the music for the television adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” which starred Sir Laurence Olivier.