Desmond Dupré was a pioneer in the performance of lute and viola da gamba during the twentieth century early music revival. After studying chemistry at Oxford, he began his musical training at the Royal College of Music in 1946, where he studied cello with Ivor James and harmony with Herbert Howells. The following year, he taught himself the viol and started to perform professionally as a guitarist and also as a cellist with the Boyd Neel Orchestra. In 1950, he made his first of many recordings with Alfred Deller, accompanying him on the guitar. After teaching himself the lute, he used that instrument for further collaborations with Deller, including a 1951 Wigmore Hall debut recital, and became the first president of the Lute Society (1956-1973). Dupré performed regularly with other leading early music groups, including the Julian Bream Consort, the Jacobean Consort of Viols, and Musica Reservata. He recorded Bach's sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord with Thurston Dart, and Dart reconstructed a Handel concerto for lute and harp, which Dupré premiered.