Spanish-born British composer. He studied with Enrique Granados and Arnold Schoenberg and settled in England in 1939, where he composed twelve-tone works in Spanish style. He composed the Symphony No. 1 (1952–55), followed by three more symphonies and chamber music incorporating advanced techniques.
His achievement was to unite atonal methods with the colours and rhythms of his native Spain; some of his later music, notably the Third Symphony (Collages, 1960) allows some avant-garde techniques. His opera The Duenna (1945–47) received its British premiere in 1992 (it was premiered in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1957).
Gerhard was born in Valls, near Barcelona. Although a choirboy and a tentative pianist and composer from an early age, he began serious music studies late, owing to parental opposition. He studied piano with Granados and composition with Carlos Pedrell at Barcelona 1915–22 and then composition with Schoenberg in Vienna, Austria, 1923–28. He taught at Barcelona 1929–38, was in charge of the music department of the Catalan Library, for which he edited music by 18th-century Catalan composers, translated various music treatises into Spanish, and contributed to the literary weekly Mirador. Pedrell introduced him as a composer and he began to make his way in Spain and Latin America.
He settled in England after the Spanish Civil War in 1938, and lived in Cambridge, first on a research studentship at King's College, then for the rest of his life off his compositions, which included occasional, radio, and film music as well as more substantial works.
WorksStage opera The Duenna (after Sheridan, 1945–47); ballets Ariel (1934), Soirées de Barcelone (1938), Alegrias (1942), Pandora (1944), Don Quixote (after Cervantes; 1950).
OratorioThe Plague (after Camus, 1964).
Music for radio playsCristóbal Colón (1943) and Adventures of Don Quixote (Eric Linklater after Cervantes, 1952).
Orchestral violin concerto (1943), four symphonies (1952–67, no. 3 Collages for orchestra and magnetic tape, 1960), Hymnody for 11 players (1963), concerto for orchestra (1965), Epithalamion for orchestra (1966).
VocalCancionero de Pedrell, Serranillas, and Cançons i Arietes for voice and orchestra; cantata for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra; song cycle L'infantament meravellós de Shaharazada (1917), and other songs.
ChamberConcert for Eight, nonet (1956), two string quartets (1955, 1962), piano trio (1918), wind quintet, Gemini for violin and piano.
Other various arrangements of old Spanish music.