Peter Dickinson: Words and Music

March 2016
7 colour, 6 black and white, 22 line illustrations
336 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Peter Dickinson: Words and Music

Peter Dickinson

eBook for Handhelds
Articles, tributes and reminiscences of composer, pianist and author Peter Dickinson are here brought together for the first time.
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.

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Keywords: Music

Table of Contents

I: Peter Dickinson at Eighty, by Stephen Banfield
II: Some Autobiography
Three Musical Careers
III: An American Apprenticeship
New York 1958-61
IV: Writings about Music
Satie - Stein - Cummings - Thomson - Berners - Cage
Charles Ives and Aaron Copland
Lord Berners: A British Avant-gardist
African American Influences on British Composers
The American Concerto
Style Modulation as a Compositional Technique
Bernarr Rainbow: Music Education's Pioneer Historian
Wilfrid Mellers at Ninety
Two Ives Reviews
Remembering David Munrow
Two Satie Reviews
Putting on John Cage's Musicircus
Lennox Berkeley: A Golden Decade
V: Literary Connections
Emily Dickinson and Composers
T. S. Eliot, Stravinsky, Britten and Rawsthorne
Ruth Pitter: A Centenary Tribute
Meeting W. H. Auden
Meeting Philip Larkin
VI: Peter Dickinson on his own Music
Directions of a Decade
Nationalism is Not Enough
From Organ Loft to Rags and Blues
VII: Interviews and a Memoir
Conversations with Erik Satie
Meriel and Peter Dickinson with Richard Baker
Peter Dickinson with James Jolly
Meriel Dickinson: A Memoir
VIII: Travels
On the Trail of Samuel Barber in 1981
Appendix II: Peter and Meriel Dickinson: Discography
Travels in America and Mexico 1986
Appendix I: Peter Dickinson: Chronological List of Works
Appendix II: Peter and Meriel Dickinson: Discography


This collection of articles, tributes and reminiscences is an immensely rewarding reflection of the man himself, a literary context in which to place his work as a composer and performer, and a demonstration of the sheer exuberance with which Dickinson engages with his subjects. PSYCHOLOGY OF MUSIC

Dickinson writes engagingly and with clarity. . . . Above all [this book] may be appreciated as a major contribution toward a context for appreciating the music of Peter Dickinson. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES

Selected by CLASSICAL MUSIC as one of the best music books of 2016.

Major literary figures are subsequently given their due, including Emily Dickinson, as set by generations of composers, and the currently undervalued Ruth Pitter...Highly potent are Dickinson's meetings with WH Auden...and Philip Larkin. A fastidious and astute word-setter Dickinson is well placed to identify what attracts specific composers to authors (and vice-versa)...Literary food for thought indeed! GRAMOPHONE

Dickinson is authoritative, lucid, persuasive, lively and sharply witty. With fine illustrations and selected music examples, this is a richly satisfying book. CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE

This excellently produced book contains some beautifully reproduced illustrations, a number in colour, and musical examples. It offers a wide-ranging exploration of Dickinson's interests and enthusiasms, and provides a fertile source for further examination of his music. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY

[T]his is one of those essential retrospectives featuring any composer, his life, works and interests to have been issued in many years. It will retain its impact through the coming decades for scholars, critics, listeners, poetry readers and performers. MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

'I think Professor Dickinson has made a unique contribution to the development history of our music merely by the degree of his interest in it. It's so enormously flattering for us to have a European musician of his calibre, who is interested in the music that has been written in America that I think of him as a unique figure.' Aaron Copland, Keele University, 19 October 1976

'Peter Dickinson the composer matters most . What will remain is a compositional strength and imagination equal to his day, newer days, and days far beyond both.' Professor Stephen Banfield

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