Lord Berners

September 2008
44 colour, 14 black and white, 1 line illustrations
264 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Boydell Press

Lord Berners

Composer, Writer, Painter

Peter Dickinson


Hardback out of stock

A refreshingly new documentary approach to a unique personality - interviews with leading figures and contemporaries who knew him and his work, set into context and fully annotated.
Lord Berners was one of the most colourful and flamboyant personalities of his day. A composer, writer, painter, and eccentric (famous for dyeing his pigeons into rainbow hues), he knew everyone in the worlds of the arts and of society in the first half of the twentieth century, and formed the model for Lord Merlin in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love. He was admired by Stravinsky, collaborated with Diaghilev and Gertrude Stein, and his five ballets were choreographed by Balanchine and Frederick Ashton.

This book offers a refreshingly new documentary approach - interviews with leading figures and contemporaries who knew him and his work, set into context and complemented with much further information. The interviewees include Ashton, the writers Lord David Cecil and Harold Acton, the composers Richard Rodney Bennett and Gavin Bryars, Diana Mosley (one of the six Mitford sisters) and more; there are also studies by Peter Dickinson. There are numerous colour plates and other illustrations.

PETER DICKINSON, the composer and pianist, is emeritus professor, University of Keele and University of London. He has written or edited several books about twentieth-century music, including Copland Connotations (2002), The Music of Lennox Berkeley (2003), and CageTalk (2006).

Table of Contents

Critical Responses
Sir Harold Acton
Interview with William Crack
Edward James
Daphne Fielding
Professor Derek Jackson
Lady Dorothy Lygon with Robert Heber-Percy
Robert Heber-Percy
Lady Mosley
Sir Frederick Ashton
Lady Betjamin
Lady Harrod
Lord David Cecil
Gavin Bryars
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
Professor Fiamma Nicolodi
Writings by Lord Berners: Prose
Writings by Lord Berners: Poems
Index of Music and Books by Lord Berners
General Index


Dickinson's book is a labour of love that testifies to his long-standing affection for the 'versatile peer'... [he] engages the reader with the lucidity of his prose as well as the variety of the book's format... [a] handsome volume. MUSIC AND LETTERS
A fascinating story of a fascinating man. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
A fascinating portrait. LAVENDER MAGAZINE
The book is...an enjoyable read for the general reader, evoking a lost age. THE TIMES
[A] sympathetic and valuable account. CLASSICAL MUSIC
This new study adds generously to the store of first-hand testimony for future attempts to assess this most curious product of the Brideshead era. GRAMOPHONE
The finest book yet on Lord Berners...The book's layout is the best I've seen in a long time. THE DELIAN
Utterly invaluable and a fascinating read. BMS NEWS
I think Stravinsky was right to point to Berners as being one of the best English composers of the century. He didn't produce a lot of work but what he did produce was remarkable. Gavin Bryars

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