Release Date: 01 March 2007
R. NETTE-C ORDEAL BY MUSIC The Strange Experience of Havergal l rzan GEOFFREY CUMBERLEGE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS London New York Toronto HAVJERGAI BKUN From a drawing by F . Furtiivall, PREFACE I FIRST became interested in Havergal Brian when writing Music in the Five Towns Brian had had some influence on the musical taste of the people of North Staffordshire during the Edwardian period, and had in return received some measure of recognition as a composer of choral and orchestral music of a high quality. When I tried to get in touch with him, however, for the purpose of gathering authentic information on his work, I met with the most extraordinary difficulty, for nobody remembered hearing anything of him since the European War of 1914, nor had anyone seen an obituary notice. Was it possible that a man could be acclaimed as a rising young composer in one generation and completely forgotten in the next Neglected composers are no rarity in any period of modern history, but on close investigation one often finds that their neglect has been magnified by them selves and their biographers. Mozart, it is true, died in poverty, but Le Nozze di Figaro was popular at the time. Was Beethoven neglected On the contrary, his admirers strove very hard to over come difficulties in his music that were often too much for them. Of Havergal Brians neglect, however, there can be no doubt, for of all those who had once acclaimed him only one remained Sir Granville Bantock whose persistent efforts to get Brians works performed were of no avail. What has happened, too, to Bantocks own compositions Why are they so rarely performed The problem resolved itself into a study of the change of taste that came aboutduring the 1914-18 war, and the effect of this on the personality of one man. Yet this man could not be considered apart from his environ ment, for into oblivion with him went certain great ideals and organizations for the advancement of musical life in Britain. Ought the Musical League to have died as it did during a period when our national spirit was more on its mettle than ever before Closer investigation of Havergal Brians life gradually unveiled a picture of an age that is to-day either forgotten or misunder stopd the age of 1880 to 1914, during which the struggle for recognition of British music was growing in intensity and the political prestige of this country was undergoing a severe strain from the increasing tension of our relations with the Emperor William II. Brian and his contemporaries were too close to the picture to see all its features in true perspective, and we, from our more distant viewpoint, will not agree with some of their conclusions, but they help to explain Brians behaviour as a musician a course of behaviour that will in turn help us, perhaps, i Oxford University Press 1943. to understand one ot the most difficult problems of psychology in musicians. Withwii avergal Brians assistance this book could not have been written, for he alone could tell the story set down in its pages. I have to thank him for so patiently answering innumerable questions, and for revising the proofs. There are gaps and errors in the best of memories, however, and I am therefore indebted to Sir Granville Bantock for the loan of his collection of Brians letters going back some forty years, and to Mr. J. Mewburn Levien also for the loan of letters. Chapter XIV, The World of ArnoldBennett, gets its atmosphere from the pages of The New Age, a publication now no longer appearing, to our great loss, for there is no paper to-day which so brings together the thought of our times as that paper did of Edwardian times. Lady Helen Bantock has kindly given me permission to print her poem Soul Star and passages from The Great God Pan. To Mr. Joseph Holbrooke I am indebted for permission to quote three short passages from his book Contemporary Composers, and to Lord Alfred Douglas for permission to quote from his poems To Olive and Wine of Summer...
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