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Humphrey Procter-Gregg Archive

Date range: c.1916–1970s.

Humphrey Procter-Gregg (1895–1980), or ‘P-G’ as he was universally known, was head of the Music Department at the University of Manchester for over thirty years, and was the first Professor of Music, from 1954 to 1962. He studied composition under Stanford at the Royal College of Music.

Throughout his career he was an enthusiastic advocate of opera in English and of chamber music. Like his friend Thomas Beecham, Procter-Gregg had a deep love for the music of Delius, and Delian influences can be found in his own works; he seemed quite out of step with post-war developments in composition, typified by the Manchester School of young composers, Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and Alexander Goehr.

After a brief and unhappy spell as Director of the London Opera Centre in 1962–4, he retired to the Lake District, where he continued to compose chamber music, vocal pieces and works for solo instrument, such as the twenty-six Westmoreland Sketches for piano. He was awarded a CBE in 1971.

The archive, which was transferred to the JRUL from the Henry Watson Music Library in 2004, largely comprises scores for the entire corpus of Procter-Gregg’s compositions, including:

  • orchestral pieces such as Variations on an Aberdeenshire Air,
  • works for voice and orchestra and for chorus and orchestra (for example, Kubla Khan and High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire),
  • organ works and church music,
  • songs with piano accompaniment,
  • piano pieces, sonatas and other chamber music,
  • incidental music for a production of Molière’s Le Malade Imaginaire

Procter-Gregg rarely dated his manuscripts, and most works exist in several versions, often differing substantially from each other.

The collection also contains many untitled works and fragments, which await identification.

Finally, there is a small quantity of correspondence and family photographs.

Finding aids

  • Uncatalogued.
  • See Michael Almond, Peter Hope and John Turner, ‘Humphrey Procter-Gregg, 1895–1980: two memorials and a list of compositions’, Manchester Sounds, vol. 4 (2003–4), pp. 71-106.

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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