Lennox Berkeley was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, in Norfolk, then at Merton College, Oxford. After meeting Ravel he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger from 1927 to 1932, becoming friendly with Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger and Alberts Roussel. This could explain why his music throughout has a distinctly Gallic flavour and demonstrates a fastidious attention to detail and workmanship.
From 1942 to 1945 he was on the staff of the BBC Music Dept. Elected President of the Performing Right Society, he was awarded the CBE in 1957 and knighted in 1974. Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music from 1946 to 1968, his pupils included Nicholas Maw, Richard Rodney Bennett, David Bedford and John Tavener.
Honours and awards include the Collard Fellowship in 1946, the Cobbett Medal in 1962, Ordre de Merite Cultural by Monaco in 1967, Composers' Guild Composer of the Year in 1973 and the Papal Knighthood of St Gregory in the same year. Appointed Hon. Fellow of Merton College in 1974, Hon Professor, University of Keele and Hon Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music in 1975.
His son Michael Berkeley is also a composer.