by Ivor GurneyComposer and author Ivor Gurney was born in Gloucester and was educated at the cathedral there where he proved a very gifted student. He began composing music at the age of 14 and in 1911 secured a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. He was described by Charles Villiers Stanford as potentially "the biggest" of many distinguished pupils he had taught-which included Ralph Vaughn Williams-but, also as "unteachable." This being because of his propensity for mood swings which not only made concentration very difficult for him, but also precipitated in a breakdown in 1913.
After the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted as a private soldier with the Gloucester Regiment. It was during the war where he began to write poetry. Just before completing his first book of poetry: Severn and the Somme he was wounded in the shoulder in April 1917. He returned to active duty not long after finding a publisher for his book to be gassed in September that same year. While recovering he fell in love with nurse Annie Nelson Drummond who initially reciprocated his feelings only to sever their correspondence before a second breakdown in February 1918.
Following the war his mental condition deteriorated further to the point where he was declared insane by his family in 1922. He spent his remaining years institutionalized where he yet remained prolific albeit largely unrecognized.
After his death from tuberculosis in 1937 his friend Marion Scott worked to preserve his letters and manuscripts.
Some two-thirds of his musical output remains unpublished.
Ivor Gurney is commemorated as one of 16 Great War Poets in Westminster Abbey
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