Whitlock was born in Chatham, Kent. A student of Vaughan Williams at London's Royal College of Music, Whitlock quickly arrived at a musical idiom that combined elements of his teacher's output and that of Elgar. His lush harmonic style also bore traces of Gershwin and other popular composers of the 1920s. Stanford, Rachmaninov and Roger Quilter are other important stylistic influences. Like Vaughan Williams and Frederick Delius, he often used themes that sounded like folk songs but were, in fact, original creations.
From 1921 to 1930 Whitlock was assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral in Kent. He served as Director of Music at St Stephen's Church, Bournemouth for the next five years, combining this from 1932 with the role of that town's borough organist, in which capacity he regularly played at the local Pavilion Theatre. After 1935 he worked for the Pavilion Theatre full-time. He worked closely with the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, with which he gave dozens of live BBC broadcasts between 1933 and his death. Whitlock was diagnosed with tuberculosis in his twenties, and also suffered from hypertension. Near the end of his life he lost his sight altogether, and he died in Bournemouth a few weeks before his 43rd birthday. For decades afterwards he remained largely forgotten.
For more information contact the Percy Whitlock Trust
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