Born in Bovey Tracey, Devon, he was educated at Cambridge and the Sorbonne, and thereafter took up the chair in French in Armstrong College, later to be King's College in Newcastle in 1926, a position he held until 1960. His most famous publications are his much-reprinted study of the Mozart Piano Concertos (1939, published originally in French) and his biography of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1957).
- Girdlestone, Cuthbert. Mozart et ses concertos pour piano. Paris, Fischbacher. 1939.
- Girdlestone, Cuthbert. Mozart and His Piano Concertos. New York: Dover Publications, 1964. "An unabridged and corrected republication of the second (1958) edition of the work first published in 1948 by Cassell & Company, Ltd., London, under the title Mozart’s Piano Concertos." A translation of Mozart et ses concertos pour piano. ISBN 0-486-21271-8 (pbk.) (3rd edition published London: Cassell, 1978. ISBN 0-304-30043-8.)
- Girdlestone, Cuthbert. Jean-Philippe Rameau, His Life and Work. London: Cassell. 1957. (2nd Edition: Paris: Lettres modernes, 1968, and in English: New York: Dover Publications, 1969. ISBN 0-486-21416-8.)
- Girdlestone, Cuthbert. La tragédie en musique, considéré comme genre littéraire. Droz, Geneva. 1972. OCoLC 772775.