Beresford King-Smith
Website created by Paul Baker • www.diabolus.org

Biography


Beresford was born in 1931 in Keynsham, close to Bristol, three years after his brother, Hugh. He was educated at St Peters School, Weston Super Mare, and Sherborne School, where he sang daily in the chapel choir and acquired a lifelong interest in music.

In common with most of his generation, school was immediately followed by National Service. He joined the Royal Artillery, and spent much of his two years service in Gibraltar.

He then went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, but left before completing his degree to join the family business, Golden Valley Paper Mills. He became heavily involved in local musical activities, and in 1955 he founded Bath Cantata Group, which was the city’s first chamber choir. It is still thriving - and indeed on 29th November 2015 celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a performance of Handel’s Messiah, followed by a celebratory dinner the following evening.

In 1960, he married his first wife, Margot, who was a violinist in the National Youth Orchestra. She later became a singer, and wrote Christian poetry, some pieces of which were set to music by Beresford.

Music was always his first love, and in January 1964 he had the opportunity to move into the professional world, accepting an appointment as Concert Manager of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. It was a ‘deep end’ experience – working for an extremely busy orchestra which gave far more ‘out-of-town’ concerts than it does these days, so many afternoons and evenings were devoted to ferrying conductors and artists to concerts around the Midlands and farther afield.

He was much involved in organising the CBSO’s Eastern European tour in 1968, when Principal Conductor Hugo Rignold and General Manager Arthur Baker were both briefly arrested on suspicion of spying – it was the time of the ‘Prague Spring’ and the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia only a few days after the orchestra had given several concerts there!

During Louis Frémaux’s tenure in Birmingham, Beresford was closely involved in the foundation of the CBSO Chorus. He managed it in addition to his other duties for some years. In 1978, when both Frémaux and Baker left on the same dramatic day, he was Acting General Manager for a few months until Edward Smith was appointed General Manager in the September, leading to the appointment of Simon Rattle a year later. Beresford was subsequently Deputy General Manager and later designated Deputy Chief Executive.

In 1980, Margot was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 1985.

In 1984, Beresford was involved in the founding of Christian African Relief Trust, which distributes food, clothes and other goods to areas of need in Africa. For many years, he organised collections and made occasional van trips up to Huddersfield, where CART is based. His support is less active nowadays, but the charity is still going strong, and doing excellent work.

In 1987 he travelled with the CBSO Chorus to the USA, soon after Simon Halsey was appointed Chorus Master. A year later he crossed the Atlantic again, this time with the orchestra, for a long and very successful USA tour. Simon Rattle doesn’t drive, so during his triumphant 18-year term of office, Beresford had many opportunities to ferry him around and to get to know him really well. Exciting days, indeed!

As the CBSO’s 75th anniversary loomed up, Beresford – now Special Projects Manager – was invited to write the orchestra’s official history, Crescendo! In 1993 he took early retirement in order to research and write the book, which was published by Methuens two years later. At the same time, he became the orchestra’s Honorary Archivist, a post he filled until January 2014 on the 50th Anniversary of his first starting to work for them.  During those CBSO years, in addition to his administrative duties, he was in constant demand from various clubs and societies as a guest speaker, giving talks about the orchestra, often illustrated with recordings.

In 1991, Beresford married his second wife, Kate. They live in Sutton Coldfield, and are regular audience members at CBSO concerts.

From his retirement in 1993 until early 2014, Beresford was Musical Director of The Circle Singers of Royal Leamington Spa,  a chamber choir in which Kate sang.

Beresford and Kate have been members of Sutton Coldfield United Reformed Church since 1994, and have occasionally served as Elders. Beresford has often composed music for the choir to sing on special occasions.

Beresford always had an interest in early music, particularly the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was Chairman of Midlands Early Music Forum from 1988 to 2004.  This organisation promotes early music and puts on regular one-day workshops in the Midlands area to enable amateur singers and instrumentalists to work with top tutors.

He has been involved in a number of performing groups, including “Merrie Madrigall” , a semi-professional group of costumed singers, “Quadro”, a small instrumental group, and the Holborne Recorder Consort .

Throughout his life, Beresford has composed a variety of music - choral works, songs, consort music, Christian musicals. His output has increased following his retirement.

In 1996, the King-Smith name achieved sudden worldwide fame when the popular Hollywood film “Babe” was released. It was based on “The Sheep Pig”, one of over a hundred books written by the acclaimed childrens’ author, Dick King-Smith. Dick was a double cousin to Beresford - two brothers married two sisters. Naturally, Beresford and Kate were inundated with queries about his famous relative. A new website dedicated to Dick’s work is at  www.dickkingsmith.com

In September 2016, Beresford and Kate celebrated their Silver Wedding, but sadly, Kate became seriously ill at the beginning of 2017, and she died, at home, on 12th March that year.