Guirne Creith

(1907 - 1996)


Guirne Creith (born Gladys Mary Cohen in London on 21 February 1907; died 1996) was an English composer and pianist most active in the 1920s and 1930s. She received the Charles Lucas Prize in 1925, having entered the Royal Academy of Music just two years before under the pseudonym Guirne M Creith. As a pianist Creith was a pupil of Edwin Fischer until 1952, when an accident left her with a permanent injury to her right hand, putting an abrupt and cruel end to her playing career.

Following the accident, Creith changed her name to Guirne van Zuylen and retrained as a singer. In 1956 three of her early songs were published under the name Guirne Javal and appeared in the Boosey’s Modern Festival Series. Composer David Fanshawe took lessons with Creith as a young boy, and cites her as an important formative influence.

By 1964, when she was still only fifty-seven, the musical chapter of Creith’s life had all but come to an end. She lived in France for five years where she became an authority on food and wine. She had two books published by Faber & Faber: Eating with Wine and Gourmet Cooking for Everyone. She moved to Germany in 1970 to work for Deinhardt, one of the world’s oldest wine shippers, in Koblenz where she wrote a short book Beethoven & Wegeler. The following year she married Robert Siddons and moved back to England where she remained until her death in 1996. 

After her death she became known for her Concerto in G minor for Violin and Orchestra, which had been premiered by Albert Sammons, conducted by Constant Lambert, on May 19, 1936. Of Creith's four known orchestral works only this concerto survives. Five songs were published  between 1929 and 1956, but a ballet, six works of chamber music and another song are believed to be lost. 


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