Philip Ledger, the British classical musician and academic who directed the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, has died at the age of 74.

He died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, according to British media.

He was a close associate of composer Benjamin Britten and worked with Peter Pears at the Aldeburgh Festival.

A composer and arranger of church music, Ledger is much loved for his recordings with the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, including Christmas favourite, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.


Philip Ledger was a choirmaster, composer, arranger and musician. (YouTube)

Ledger was director of music at King’s College, Cambridge from 1974 to 1982 and took the choir on a tour of the world for the first time.

Born in 1937 in Bexhill, Ledger was educated at King's College Cambridge and the Royal College of Music.

He was appointed Master of Music at Chelmsford Cathedral in 1961, making him the youngest cathedral organist in Britain.

In 1965 he became music director and dean of fine arts at University of East Anglia.

An artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival with  Britten and Pears, he plays continuo on Britten's recordings of Bach and Purcell. He played the Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Victoria, Britten’s only work for solo organ, at the composer’s funeral in 1976.

An organist and keyboard player, Ledger has made recordings with artists such as Dame Janet Baker, Paul Tortelier, Pinchas Zukerman and Robert Tear.

His own compositions include The Dominican Mass for an American Roman Catholic church as well as works for the Anglican Church, including Easter cantata The Risen Christ and new settings of popular texts such as Adam lay ybounden and A Spotless Rose.

Between 1982 and 2001 he was principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

After retiring in 2001, he continued to compose music, including his Requiem (A Thanksgiving for Life) which debuted in 2007 and This Holy Child, a setting of the Christmas story with five original carols, which will premiere on Dec. 16.

Ledger was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1985 and knighted in 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Erryl Wells, who was a principal soprano at the Royal Opera House in London. They have a son and a daughter.