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.