'... some conductors may think that they are God,
but only one knows that he is Tod ...'
British conductor Vernon ('Tod') Handley was born on 11 November 1930 in London. He served in the armed forces, studied at Balliol College Oxford and at the Guildhall School of Music. He became a student of Adrian Boult and a proponent of Boult's restrained conducting style. Handley's first London concert (with the Morley College Symphony Orchestra) included Arnold Bax's Symphony No 3, and there were many more Bax performances throughout Handley's career.
During fifty years of conducting, Handley established the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted the Amsterdam Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Tonbridge Philharmonic, the Ulster Orchestra and the World Youth Orchestra, and from 1983 was associate conductor of the London Philharmonic. He was professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music from 1966 until 1972.
An unstinting champion of British music, his numerous performances and recordings include music by Malcolm Arnold, Granville Bantock, Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge, Benjamin Britten, Geoffrey Bush, Delius, Patrick Hadley, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Kenneth Leighton, John McCabe, E J Moeran, Charles Stanford, Edward Elgar, Gerald Finzi, Josef Holbrooke, Gustav Holst, Elizabeth Maconchy, Cyril Rootham, Robert Simpson, William Walton, Grace Williams and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
He received many awards and honours, and was greatly appreciated by composers, performers and the public.
He died in Monmouthshire on 10 September 2008, aged 77, after a lengthy illness.
A selection of M&V articles about Vernon Handley
Ask Alice - Why the Ulster Orchestra is the most important orchestra in the UK, by Classical Music agony aunt Alice McVeigh
Ensemble. Sing ye to the Lord - Roderic Dunnett was at the 2009 Hereford Three Choirs Festival
Ensemble. Inner Calm - Holst and Vaughan Williams from Nottingham, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Expressive Power - Mike Wheeler listens to Natalie Clein and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Ask Alice - Classical Music Agony Aunt Alice McVeigh is proud to be with the English Symphony Orchestra
CD Spotlight. Strange farrago - Elgar's 'Starlight Express', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... accomplished and imbued with the sort of affection the work desperately needs.'