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Maurice Miles (Conductor, Arranger)

Born: 1908 - Epsom, England
Died: June 26, 1985

The English conductor, Maurice Edward Miles, studied at the Wells Cathedral School. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where he came under the tutelage of conductors such as Sir Henry J. Wood and Julius Harrison. He later studied also at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Maurice Miles conducted the Northern Philharmonic in several of its Leeds concerts in 1945-1946 and was appointed principal conductor of the newly formed Yorkshire Symphony in 1947 remaining in that post until 1954 (he was replaced by Nikolai Malko). The orchestra played many 20th century works, including more than thirty by British composers in his first season alone. His repertoire was eclectic, and he gave a rare performance of Arthur Honegger's oratorio King David at the 1950 Leeds Triennial Musical Festival. He also directed a Festival of British Music in Leeds in 1951 (Festival of Britain year). He was conductor of the City of Belfast Orchestra in 1955-1956, first principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra (which was created as a full time professional orchestra in 1966) in 1966-1967, and conductor of the Belfast Philharmonic Society from 1955 to 1967.

Maurice Miles' specialities were never likely to become fashionable. Arnold Bax and Arthur Butterworth were among the composers he championed. He gave the first performance of Gerald Finzi's beautiful Dies Natalis in the Wigmore Hall in 1940, and conducted Geoffrey Bush's Symphony No. 1 at the Proms in 1958. As well as his work in Northern Ireland Maurice Miles was a frequent conductor of the BBC Welsh Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He spent decades advocating unfashionable composers with unglamorous orchestras. The Promenade Concerts, choral festivals and schools' concerts came within his conducting ambit.

Maurice Miles taught conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London (from 1953), and at the Royal Military School of Music Kneller Hall (1969). In 1977 he produced a guide to conducting (published by Novello) with the title 'Are you beating Two or Four?' - and subtitled 'Some hints to help you make up your mind'! He published orchestral transcriptions of Jesus My Dearest Friend (J.S. Bach) and Blessed Virgin Expostulation (H. Purcell).

Maurice Miles was married with Eileen Spencer Wood and had one son and two daughters.

Source: International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (6th Edition, 1972); On An Overgrown Path Blog (October 2007); The Early 1940s Conductors Part 1
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2010)

Maurice Miles: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

On An Overgrown Path: Remembering a forgotten maestro

The Early 1940s Conductors Part 1. A Travelling Days Website
Leeds Music People - Discovering Leeds - Leeds Classical Music

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