Clifford Crawley's composition teachers included Arthur Hutchings, Lennox Berkeley and Humphrey Searle. Having taught in schools and colleges of education in England from 1952, Crawley moved to Canada in 1973 to become a professor of composition and music education at Queen's University. In Canada, Crawley was also active as sometime conductor of the Kingston Youth Orchestra, the Queen's University Orchestra and Choral Ensemble, and the Eastern Ontario Concert Orchestra; festival adjudicator; examiner (RCMT); and participant in the "Creative Artist in the Classroom" and "Composer in the Classroom" programs of the OAC and Canadian Music Centre respectively. In addition, he worked as a music consultant in Honduras and Malaysia. Crawley displayed a special skill in writing for children and amateur musicians and composed a large amount of vocal music for school use, ranging from simple songs to the musical Porky, Snorky and Corky (1983). Some 50 of these school music pieces have been published.
In his first opera, The Slaughter of the Innocents (1974), three distinct levels of difficulty - simple amateur, experienced amateur, and professional - are maintained. Crawley's largest and most important composition is the two-act opera, Barnardo Boy (1980). In this warmly human work, Crawley effectively employs such devices as a brass band, a rock group, aleatoric passages, and quotations from hymn tunes and World War I songs. Of the smaller pieces, his setting of the Stabat Mater (1984) for soprano, flute and piano, and his work for two pianos, Three Shades of Dark (1987), are fine examples of Crawley's deeply expressive style. His musical idioms, while contemporary, are accessible and eclectic, carrying on the tradition of Benjamin Britten and Malcolm Arnold. Crawley was an associate of the CMCentre.
The Slaughter of the Innocents, church opera (R. Wright, after medieval sources). 1974 (Leicester 1974). Ms
Barnardo Boy, musical drama (D. Helwig). 1980 (Kingston 1982). Ms
Porky, Snorky and Corky, school musical (Crawley). 1983 (Kingston 1983). Vs, piano (orch or guit/autoharp or Orff instr). Novello 1987
The Pied Piper, opera (David Helwig). 1989. Ms
Also other works
Koleda: A Christmas Overture. 1980. Berandol
Canadian Dances. 1984. Ms
A Group of Seven. 1987. Double string orch with optional (keybd). Ms. Also a sinfonietta (1978) for small orch; 2 concertinos (1979, 1985); a concerto (1987) for piano and orch; other works for orch and for orch with soloist(s)
Other works for diverse chamber ensemble: keyboard; for voice and piano; for SATB including Peter Piper and Close of Spring, both published by Lawson-Gould