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Gerald Finzi’s Letters, 1915-1956
Title Details

1080 Pages

24 x 17 cm

34 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press

Gerald Finzi's Letters, 1915-1956

Edited by Diana McVeagh

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A fully annotated edition of more than 1600 letters from and to Gerald Finzi, spanning the composer's life from ca. the early 1920s up until his untimely death in 1956.

WINNER of the 2022 C.B. Oldman prize, by the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAMLS UK & Irl)

Gerald Finzi's (1901-1956) masterpiece is the radiant and touching cantata Dies Natalis. He is also highly regarded for his Thomas Hardy song-settings, for his Intimations of Immortality, and for his fine cello and clarinet concertos. As a scholar, he championed the then neglected composers Hubert Parry and Ivor Gurney, and the eighteenth-century John Stanley, William Boyce and Richard Mudge, composers he revived with the amateur orchestra he founded.
Diana McVeagh, Finzi's biographer, brings together more than 1600 letters from and to Gerald Finzi, spanning the composer's life from the early 1920s until his untimely death in 1956. His more than 160 correspondents include Ralph Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells, Edmund Rubbra, Arthur Bliss and Howard Ferguson, Michael Tippett, Benjamin Britten and Sir John Barbirolli, the poet Edmund Blunden, and the artist John Aldridge, making this a portrait not only of Gerald Finzi but also of his group of composer, musician and artist friends in the first half of the twentieth century.
In these mostly unpublished letters Finzi emerges as a multi-faceted and complex character, developing from a solitary, introverted youth into a man with strong views and wide interests: education, pacifism, vegetarianism, the Arts and Crafts movement and the English pastoral tradition, among others. From amusing trivia to the deeply serious ideas and principles Finzi set out at the onset of war and in the 1950s, these letters allow for first-hand insights into his personality and background. This definitive edition is fully annotated, offering context with substantial commentaries on the correspondence, illustrations by Joy Finzi, a chronology, bibliography and a catalogue of works.
A Young Man's Exhortation, 1915-33
Haste on my Joys! 1933-39
Oh Fair to See, 1939-41
Channel Firing, 1941-45
Sing Out Cecilia's Name, 1945-51
The Too Short Time, 1951-56
Finzi's Circle
Catalogue of Finzi's Works
Finzi's Writings
Select Bibliography
Index of Finzi's Works
General Index

DIANA MCVEAGH is a Vice-President of the Elgar Society. Her interests range from Josquin to Birtwistle, but she writes mostly about English Romantics. She is the author of Elgar: His Life and Music (Dent, 1955), and the highly acclaimed Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music (Boydell, 2005 and 2010), and Elgar: The Music Maker (Boydell, 2007). She has contributed to the New Grove (1980, 2001) and the Dictionary of National Biography.

"This wonderful labour of love (and it must have been a labour) preserves in a quite special way the history of the life and times of a very specific musical milieu as well as Finzi's personal musical history . . . a literary and musical "Everest" elegantly conquered: a quite outstanding achievement." Lewis Foreman, ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL
"In our age of extravagant promotion, intensive publicity, and the frequent over-politicisation of many writers, I believe it is hard to over-estimate the importance of Diana McVeagh's volume of Finzi letters. . . . By combining this vast trove of letters with a first-class commentary, we can experience at first-hand this vivid depiction of a certain strand within twentieth-century British music. [It] reveals not just an individual but a whole community." Jonathan Clinch, FINZI FRIENDS JOURNAL
"By bringing together this collection of Finzi's letters, arguably among the finest of any 20th-century British composer, admirers and enthusiasts of the music of this period are in Diana McVeagh's debt: this volume is a treasure trove to return to - again, and again." Andrew Burn, FINZI FRIENDS JOURNAL
"The publication of Diana McVeagh's long-awaited edition of Finzi's letters is properly a cause for celebration. They are an invaluable resource for those interested in British music during the first half of the twentieth century. The letters encompass an amazingly broad spectrum of musical life. The painstakingly researched cast of musical executants, composers and writers (as well as pomologists) means that countless students of Finzi's era will find new resources or be able to extend their existing understanding." Martin Bussey, FINZI FRIENDS JOURNAL
"The 41-year span of these letters represents a substantial resource as an informal social history of the time and of the sensibilities and musical activities of one man and his circle. . . . Because of the interesting variety of Finzi's correspondents - including important movers and shakers in the British musical life of the time, as well as those now rarely remembered - these letters add a significant depth of individual flavour to the more general historical treatments." David Wright, THE MUSICAL TIMES
"Diana McVeagh, who has edited a massive, 1080-page two-kilo volume of the composer's letters, is clear-headed and unsentimental in her estimation of his importance. . . . The book is fascinating for its glimpses into not only into the creative mind of a lesser composer and his circle, but also a time and place." Andrew Ford, INSIDE STORY, ABC RADIO
"Gerald Finzi was an eager and urbane letter-writer, and Diana McVeagh, now in her 96th year, has done him proud. Her edition is a triumph of determined common sense and value for money." Stephen Banfield, Journal of Musicological Research



May 2021


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Title Details

1080 Pages

2.4 x 1.7 cm

34 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press