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Berners, Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, Baron (1883–1950)
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The English composer Sir Gerald Hugh TyrwhittWilson, later the fourteenth baron Berners of the English peerage, was surely one of the most unusual in the annals of twentieth-century English music. Unabashedly eccentric, Berners was a country gentleman who had the pigeons on his estate dyed different colors; but at the same time, he was a skilled composer of songs, film music, and music for ballets. In addition to his activities as a composer, Berners nurtured ambitions as a painter and a novelist. Berners’s gentle landscapes were heavily influenced by Corot and the impressionists; his novels, such as Count Omega (1941) and the privately printed and suggestively titled The Girls of Radcliffe Hall (1937) are elegantly written and quietly, subversively, queer. His homosexuality was subsumed under the antic mask of his eccentricities, his title, and his wealth, all of which gave him the freedom to compose and live as he chose.