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Peter Dickinson: Words and Music

Peter Dickinson: Words and Music

Copyright Date: 2016
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    Peter Dickinson: Words and Music
    Book Description:

    Peter Dickinson has made an enduring contribution to British musical life, and his music has been regularly performed and recorded by leading musicians. His writings, brought together here for the first time, are equally noteworthy. Covering well over half a century, the subjects are fascinatingly varied. Apart from musical interests ranging from Charles Ives to John Cage, they touch on literature; and Dickinson's meetings with W.H. Auden and Philip Larkin are an intriguing insight that led to his Auden songs and the chamber work Larkin's Jazz. American themes are prominent in this collection. There are unique reviews of concert life in New York from 1959 to 1961; an account of the teaching programme at the Juilliard School of Music at that time; three studies of Ives; and features containing original material on Copland, Thomson and Cage, all of whom Dickinson knew. Features on Erik Satie include the imaginary discussion marking his centenary in 1966. Dickinson also writes about his own music, providing an insight into what it was like being a British composer in the later twentieth century. Peter Dickinson was born in Lancashire in 1934 and now lives in Suffolk. His 80th birthday was marked by a whole variety of tributes, including concerts, articles, broadcasts and various interviews - some included in this book. PETER DICKINSON is a British composer and pianist as well as author and editor of Boydell/URP books on Berkeley, Copland, Cage, Barber and Berners. As a pianist, Dickinson had a twenty-five-year, international partnership with his sister, the mezzo Meriel Dickinson, for whom he wrote song cycles to poems of E. E. Cummings, Gregory Corso and Stevie Smith. He was a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3 and is widely read as a critic on the Gramophone. He is an Emeritus Professor of the Universities of Keele and London and is chair of the Bernarr Rainbow Trust, for which he has edited several books on music education.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-666-0
    Subjects: Music
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Music Examples
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. I INTRODUCTION Peter Dickinson at Eighty
    (pp. 1-11)
    Stephen Banfield

    Peter Dickinson does not look like an octogenarian: there must be some illusion. I would put him at a good ten years younger. The bracing sea air of Lytham St Anne’s, where he was born, and Aldeburgh, where he now lives, must have done its job particularly well. But more to the point, Dickinson himself has always done his job – three jobs, to be precise – and there is no doubt that this has kept him young. What one experiences in his presence is not so much a boundless energy, which might be wearying for all concerned, as a...

  6. II SOME AUTOBIOGRAPHY Three Musical Careers
    (pp. 12-23)

    I was born in Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire on 15 November 1934 and I was fortunate to have music on both sides of my family. My mother, Muriel Porter (1906–2003), played the violin and sang at school. Her sister, Irene, studied piano and singing at the Royal Manchester College of Music, where she was a contemporary of Alan Rawsthorne – she said he wore fine cravats – and later on my sister Meriel would study there. My mother concentrated on drama and was offered a place with Frank Benson’s Shakespeare Company but the values of their Victorian parents were...

    (pp. 24-47)

    I arrived in New York on 1 September 1958, Labor Day, and became a graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship. These Fellowships covered the costs of travel, tuition and living, but also had an ambassadorial role in requiring Fellows from many different countries to speak at Rotary Clubs around the whole area. The Rotarians I met were generous in their hospitality; anxious to show how they lived and worked; but some became perplexed when I extolled American achievements in literature, art and music.

    I studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar¹ and amongst my fellow...

    (pp. 48-174)

    Toward a Context for the Music of Virgil Thomson

    The original version of this article was an illustrated talk given in the presence of Virgil Thomson at the opening session of the 1982 Special Joint Meeting of the Sonneck Society [now Society for American Music], the Midcontinent American Studies Association, the Midwest Chapter of the American Musicological Society and History SRIG-Music Educators National Conference at Lawrence, Kansas, on 1 April 1982, and at the Institute of Studies in American Music (now the Hitchcock Institute for American Studies), Brooklyn College, New York on 5 April 1982. I should like to thank...

    (pp. 175-226)

    The following article is adapted from a review-article, ‘Emily Dickinson and Music’,Music & Letters75:2 (May 1994), 241–5, and printed here by permission.

    The saga of Emily Dickinson (1830–86), with the increasingly voluminous literature on the subject, has far exceeded that of her English contemporary Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Both were held to be eccentrically ahead of their time – they were barely published in their own lifetimes, and even then in edited versions for occasional appearances in periodicals. Robert Bridges sat on Hopkins’s poems until 1918. Only ten of Emily Dickinson’s poems had reached print by...

    (pp. 227-245)

    The following article appeared inThe Musical Times128, no. 1727 (January 1987), 15–17.

    W. H. Auden’s poem ‘Musée des beaux arts’ is a response to a painting by the 16th-century Netherlands painter Pieter Breughel depicting the Fall of Icarus. Auden notes how violently contrasted emotions and activities actually coexist. How suffering takes place ‘While someone is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along’, and even during a martyrdom ‘the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse/Scratches its innocent behind on a tree’.

    Auden embodies his awareness of these natural dichotomies in...

    (pp. 246-271)
    Peter Dickinson, Erik Satie, Meriel Dickinson, Richard Baker and James Jolly

    This colloquy first appeared inMusical Opinion, October–December 2014, 22–3; reprinted by permission.

    In this imaginary conversation with Erik Satie his words are authentic, translations by Rollo Myers. It was written for the Satie centenary on 17 May 1966 but never published. In fact, London’s actual Satie Centenary on the day was a very modest programme of songs and piano music at the College of St Mark and St John, Chelsea, with Jane Manning and pianists Colin Tilney and Peter Dickinson. Satie’s reputation may not yet have reached the level implied by this imaginary London Centenary but it...

    (pp. 272-280)

    On 23 January 1982, a year after Barber died, BBC Radio 3 first broadcast a documentary I made with the late Arthur Johnson.¹ Selections from our interviews were included in the one-hour programme, but all the interviews referred to here were published in full inSamuel Barber Remembered: A Centenary Portrait(Rochester NY: University of Rochester Press, 2010).

    For some years I had been hoping that Samuel Barber would be able to visit Keele University, where I started the Music Department and its Centre for American Music in 1974. Copland and Carter had already been, but Barber proved more elusive....

  13. APPENDIX 1 Peter Dickinson: Chronological List of Works
    (pp. 281-284)
  14. APPENDIX 2 Peter and Meriel Dickinson: Discography
    (pp. 285-292)
  15. Index
    (pp. 293-318)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 319-319)