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Lennox Berkeley and Friends

Lennox Berkeley and Friends: Writings, Letters and Interviews

edited by Peter Dickinson
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Lennox Berkeley and Friends
    Book Description:

    This book is a major source of information about one of the most influential British composers of the mid-twentieth century and the musicians he knew. It also provides details of the musical relationship between Paris and London before, during and after World War II. Berkeley had a ring-side seat when he lived in Paris, studied with Nadia Boulanger and wrote reviews about musical life there from 1929 to 1934. His little known letters to her reveal the mesmeric power of this extraordinary woman. Berkeley was an elegant writer, and it is fascinating to read his first-hand memories of composers such as Ravel, Poulenc, Stravinsky and Britten. The book also contains interviews with Berkeley's colleagues, friends and family. These include performers such as Julian Bream and Norman Del Mar; composers Nicholas Maw and Malcolm Williamson; the composer's eldest son Michael, the composer and broadcaster; and Lady Berkeley. Lennox Berkeley knew Britten well, and there are many references to him in this eminently readable collection. Peter Dickinson, British composer and pianist, has written and edited numerous books about twentieth-century music, including 'Cage Talk: Dialogues with and about John Cage' as well as 'Samuel Barber Remembered' (both with University of Rochester Press) and three books published by Boydell Press: 'The Music of Lennox Berkeley'; 'Copland Connotations'; and 'Lord Berners: Composer, Writer, Painter'. Peter Dickinson's music is widely performed and recorded. Dickinson knew Berkeley from 1956 until the composer's death in 1989; performed many of the songs with his sister, the mezzo Meriel Dickinson; and has written and broadcast regularly about his music.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-045-3
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Peter Dickinson
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Peter Dickinson

    Sir Lennox Berkeley needs little introduction as one of the most important British composers of the mid-twentieth century. Thanks to the advocacy of the late Richard Hickox, much of his orchestral music is now recorded; so are two of his operas. Hardly a week goes by without his liturgical music gracing the cathedral lists all over the country, and his chamber music has recently found an international public through many performances and recordings.

    Lennox Randall Francis Berkeley was born into an aristocratic family at Sunningwell Plain, near Oxford, on 12 May 1903. His father was a naval officer and there...

  6. Part I Reports from Paris, 1929–34
    (pp. 15-44)

    Between the wars Paris reigned supreme. Harold Acton proclaimed: ‘Intellectually Paris was the capital of the world, and the judgement of Paris was final. The Entente Cordiale in the fine arts had never been stronger.’¹ The appalling casualties and deprivations of the First World War had left Paris anxious to forget the Germans and to concentrate on French art and ideals. It was in that spirit that in 1915 Debussy announced his Six Sonatas and signed the title pages ‘musicien Français’ – but he lived to complete only three and never saw the end of the conflict.

    Purely French theatrical traditions...

  7. Part II Letters to Nadia Boulanger, 1929–74
    (pp. 45-88)

    Nadia Boulanger (1887–1979) had an enormous influence as one of the leading teachers of composition in the twentieth century, especially on her American students, who included Aaron Copland, Walter Piston and Elliott Carter. Her father, Ernest Boulanger (1815–1900), was a successful composer and teacher who won the Prix de Rome in 1836, and her mother, who was a pupil of his, was a domineering woman of obscure Russian origins forty years younger than her husband. Raïsa Boulanger, who claimed unsubstantiated aristocratic origins, seems never to have been satisfied with anything and this demanding approach was transferred to her...

  8. Part III Selections from Berkeley’s Later Writings and Talks, 1943–82
    (pp. 89-153)

    Berkeley wrote occasional articles and reviews for newspapers and periodicals, invariably expressed with style and discrimination. This selection starts with Berkeley anxious to share his enthusiasm for Britten’s music. Britten had heard early works of Berkeley in London five years before they met.¹ One can understand Britten admiring the objective neo-baroque movements of Berkeley’s Suite for oboe and cello, steeped in Bach and so different from the provincial English folksong school. The two composers met in April 1936 when they were both represented in the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival at Barcelona on the eve of the Spanish Civil...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  10. Part IV Interviews with Berkeley, 1973–8
    (pp. 154-178)

    Of the four interviews here, two are with me, one (specifically about the Fourth Symphony) is with Michael Oliver, and one is with three men of letters for a poetry magazine. In my own interviews I probably avoided questions to which I knew the answers, so, for example, there was no point in my asking Berkeley what he thought of John Cage or Cornelius Cardew. But the literary men did, and profitably moved the discussion into wider areas than just music. Some repetitions within the interviews have been condensed, but even if Berkeley tells the same story, he may qualify...

  11. Part V Extracts from Berkeley’s Diaries, 1966–82
    (pp. 179-224)

    Berkeley wrote his diaries with some reluctance. He obviously found he was short of time for composition, and more than once in these extracts wonders whether it was worth while to keep this kind of record. It certainly was, for the light it throws on Berkeley’s life in his final years. We read of his visits with Lady Berkeley to Monaco and elsewhere, his connections with the Royal Family and Prime Minister Edward Heath, and follow Berkeley’s travels round Britain to attend or take part in performances of his music. Most of these occasions are recorded in appreciative terms. He...

  12. Part VI Interviews with Performers, Composers, Family and Friends, 1990–91
    (pp. 225-280)

    Julian Bream has been widely acknowledged as one of the greatest masters of the guitar and the lute. He was born in London in 1933, studied at the Royal College of Music, where the guitar was not then taught, and made his London debut in 1950. His international career developed from 1954. He had a crucial role inspiring and working with some of the leading composers – including Lennox Berkeley. He was made a CBE in 1985.

    PD How did you first come across Lennox Berkeley?

    JB I knew a little bit about his music when I was a boy. The...

  13. Part VII Memorial Address by Sir John Manduell
    (pp. 281-282)

    The Memorial Requiem Mass for Lennox Randal Francis Berkeley (1903–1989) took place at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday 20 March 1990 and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Before the service radio listeners heard a recording of Berkeley’s Duo for cello and piano, op. 81/1 (Julian Lloyd Webber and John McCabe, Oiseau-Lyre DSLO 7100) and Fr Cormack Rigby was responsible for presentation throughout. The music in Westminster Cathedral opened with Bach’s ‘Herzlich tut mich verlangen’ and then the second of Berkeley’s Three Pieces for organ, op. 72/1. The celebrant was His Eminence Cardinal George Basil Hume, OSB, Archbishop of Westminster....

  14. Catalogue of Works
    (pp. 283-296)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-304)
  16. Index of Works by Berkeley
    (pp. 305-306)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 307-316)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 317-317)