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/I>; 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.
Every page in this excellently edited, finely produced volume speaks of a composer who listened to his inner voice, turning a deaf ear to the blandishments of fame or fortune. ... (Berkeley) has been too often overlooked; Peter Dickinson's book will surely do much to remedy that. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (L)ovingly edited by the British composer and pianist Peter Dickinson (...) Berkeley's writings reveal the same kindly, urbane and by no means undiscerning personality that is heard in his music. INTERNATIONAL PIANO This valuable book reminds us that by keenly analysing limitations in other composers and himself without undue cruelty, Berkeley was more than the gentle and kindly soul whom all of the interviewees recall; he was also a most perceptive thinker about opera. OPERABR> (T)his is a handsome and welcome tribute to a composer who did not necessarily make a huge statement (...) and whose approach to composition, be it music or articles, was subtle and discerning, drawing the recipient into a world of sophistication and economy, yet with much to say. (...) As a publication and as a chronicle of a creative life, it could not be better achieved. GRAMOPHONE (P)rolific composer and well-loved man, Lennox Berkeley (...) remains an enigma to most of us even if we know little of his enormous output of songs, symphonies, ballets and spiritually inclined choral music. (...) (This) new collection of writings, letters and interviews, edited by his one-time pupil Peter Dickinson, offers an easily digested introduction to the composer and his milieu. SPECTATOR After reading (this) new volume I feel I almost knew the man. (...) highly recommended. CLASSICAL.NET (A) fascinating book (...) a collection of writings, letters and interviews that give a wonderful insight, not only into the composer himself, but also into other music figures of the age. THE CLASSICAL REVIEWER This book is essential reading for all enthusiasts of 20th century music, and will be of tremendous value to all scholars of British music in particular and Western music in general. MUSIC.WEB.INTERNATIONAL (John France)