Berners, educated at Eaton, was an eccentric English gentleman. He had some musical training in Dresden and in England and also received some advice from Stravinsky and Casella, but he was essentially a self-taught composer.
A dilettante with ample means to pursue his interests, Berners created whimsical works such as =Three Little Funeral Marches= (1914), written for a statesman, a canary and a rich aunt. He also wrote works for the stage. These efforts enabled his feeling for parody and irony to find full expression. =The Wedding Bouquet= (1936) is a choral ballet with words by Gertrude Stein and costumes and settings by Berners. A burlesque of Stravinsky's =The Wedding=, Berners' work gives a humorous viewpoint of the behavior of ordinary people on special occasions when emotions are not under normal control. An honorary attach‚ to Constantinople (1909-11) and Rome (1911-19), Berners was a gracious host and practical joker. He was also a painter and showed his work at the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1931 and in 1936.