Geoffrey Self (1930-2008)



Beryl and Geoffrey Self (August 2007)

Geoffrey Self


Born in Carshalton, Surrey, in 1930 Geoffrey Self was educated at Wallington Grammar School.  An able pianist, he gained his ARCM diploma whilst still at school and devoted his spare time to avid concert-going, studying scores and working with amateur orchestras in London.  In 1959 he was appointed County Music Organiser for Somerset, where he conducted the Somerset County Orchestra, and in 1964 took up the position of Head of Music at Camborne Technical College (later Cornwall College) where he remained until retirement.  Whilst in Cornwall he was for many years conductor of Redruth Choral Society and the Cornwall Symphony Orchestra and also directed the Mylor Festival.

An enthusiastic lover of English music, he wrote a number of books on composers for whom he felt a particular affinity:  E J  Moeran, Julius Harrison, Eric Coates and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.  He also wrote a highly-acclaimed study of British light music and a history of music in west Cornwall.  For many years he worked on a study of, perhaps, his favourite composer, Frederick Delius, although, sadly, this was never completed.

Geoffrey Self was invariably modest where his own compositions were concerned.  Although he wrote several large-scale works, including a piano concertino and a set of Symphonic Studies for orchestra, he believed firmly that the composer's craft was best sublimated to the needs of the community and wrote carols, anthems, instrumental and chamber pieces for specific performers or occasions and was always deeply touched when his pieces were performed.  Several were published, including two carols by Elkin, an arrangement of Yellow Bird for school children by Novello, some arrangements of Bach chorale-preludes by Hinrichsen and, more recently, a selection of organ and choral pieces by animus.

Music aside, he loved steam railways and was a life member of the West Somerset Railway.  Some of his happiest times were spent with his wife Beryl, sometimes with children or grandchildren as well, trundling through the beautiful countryside between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, behind a lovingly-restored GWR loco.

Geoffrey Self died in October 2008.  It is to be hoped that his music will continue to be performed and held in deep affection for many years to come.  His is the music of a consummate and warm-hearted craftsman who took pains over everything he wrote.

Adrian Self

Geoffrey's Song

Geoffrey's off to Lyonesse to taste the salt-tanged air;

To smell the sea and feel the breeze blow through his soft, white hair,

 And hear, upon the warm 'Droof night, the dulcet accents there.


Geoffrey's off to Lyonesse with Beryl at his side.

 To soak up strains of salted sand and trace the tousled tide

And listen to the gaudy gulls 'top Truro's Park-and-Ride.


Geoffrey's off to Lyonesse a pasty for to buy;

Saffron buns and clotted cream and starry-gazy pie:

The potential for cholesterol to soar aloft is high!


Geoffrey's off to Lyonesse, but sadly not as planned.

The blousy breakers weep for him along the storm-tossed sand,

And rain-drops fall, like liquid notes, on Arthur's ancient land.


Geoffrey's off to Lyonesse on clouds of tumbled mirth.

We'll lay his ashes in the womb of sacred Cornish earth,

And catch his soul, rejoicing, as a child released from birth.


Pam Self.  In memory of my lovely father-in-law, Geoffrey Self.  18th/19th August - 20th/21st October 2008



Music by Geoffrey Self in the animus catalogue:

Difficulty is indictated by a number in brackets [ ] where 1 is easy and 6 is difficult


    And all the trumpets sounded for him: [5] £4.00       
    Prelude, Passacaglia and Chorale on a theme of Thomas Merritt Pub. January 2009

    Prelude and Passacaglia [5] £3.00

    The view from here [2-4] £5.00
    Suite in four movements inspired by the view from the churchyard of St. Mary's, Penzance

    Deo gracias: Prelude on Now thank we all our God
    Chorale-Prelude on Rockingham
    Both included in Hymn-Tune Preludes (Vol. 2) [2-4]  £7.00



Chanticleer:  carol for unaccompanied mixed voices (SATB) [4] £1.20

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills: anthem for SATB and organ [5] £1.30 Pub. January 2009

Now blessed be Thou, Christ Jesus:  carol for SATB and organ [5]  £1.50

O Little One Sweet:  carol for unaccompanied mixed voices (SATB) [2]  £1.20

O Sing unto the Lord a new song:  anthem for SATB and organ [5] £1.50 Pub. January 2009