Milford was born in Oxford, son of Sir Humphrey Milford, a publisher with Oxford University Press. He attended Rugby School from 1916 where his musical talent for the piano, flute and theory was recognized, and studied at the Royal College of Music from 1921 to 1926. His composition teachers were Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and he studied harmony and counterpoint under R. O. Morris. Realizing that he would not be able to make a living solely as a composer he worked for a time with the Aeolian Company correcting Duo-Art pianola rolls until 1930. In 1929 he had met fellow-composer Gerald Finzi, with whom he found he had much in common, personally and musically, and the two formed a lifelong friendship. The deaths of Finzi (1956) and Vaughan Williams (1958) affected Milford deeply. His final illness affected his vision and his balance, and he committed suicide in December 1959.
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