The Aesthetic Life of Cyril Scott

The Aesthetic Life of Cyril Scott

Sarah Collins


Boydell Press



The first comprehensive account of the life and influences of Cyril Scott, not merely a composer but an artist in the broadest possible sense of the term.
Prolific and personable, innovative and contentious, Cyril Scott (1879 - 1970) was considered to be one of the most promising young talents in modern British music at the turn of the twentieth century. He was a member of the 'Frankfurt Group' (together with Percy Grainger, Norman O'Neill, Roger Quilter and Balfour Gardiner), his music was performed by some of the leading conductors of the time in Britain and on the Continent, and his friends included highly influential figures in European literature, art and politics. Apart from his music, Scott was the author of many books on alternative medicine, psychology, Occultism, Theosophy and comparative religion. He also wrote fiction, autobiography, and poetry. Scott embodied a unique time in a particularly unique way. His aesthetic ideas informed both his professional creative practice and his manner of living. He was not merely a composer, but an artist in the broadest possible sense of the term.
This book provides the first comprehensive account of Scott's life and influences as well as an outline and contextualization of his aesthetic thinking. It traces his changing conception of the function of art and the role of the artist from his formative exposure to Symbolism through his friendship with the German poet Stefan George, to his exploration of Western and Eastern esoteric traditions, showing how the prevailing cross-pollination of ideas allowed him to develop a fully integrated rationale for his art and life. The story of Scott's development guides the reader through some of the most fascinating intellectual discourses of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Europe.

Sarah Collins' current research focuses on British music aesthetics and criticism in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She has a particular interest in the interaction between turn-of-the-century conceptions of the function of criticism, theories of critical intuition and questions of moral philosophy. She lectured at the University of Queensland from 2006 and joined the faculty of Monash University in 2012.


March 2013
21 black and white, 8 line illustrations
280 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843838074
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS006000, MUS020000
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Table of Contents

Matters of Biography and Autobiography
"Music, Melancholy, Apprehension, Sex, and the Church"
"An Artist-Autocrat of the Most Pronounced Type"
"The Most Absorbing and Romantic Interest of My Present Incarnation"
Music: Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages
The Immortal Artist
Theory and Practice
Select Bibliography


Collins's book raises valuable questions and is thought provoking throughout. Her work with primary sources is commendable. NOTES

Thoroughly absorbing ... Collins's study is beautifully written, and is worthwhile reading in what it reveals both about Cyril Scott and about his time and milieu. CHOMBEC News

This welcome, much-needed study is superbly argued and written. It is attractively produced and presented. TEMPO

This is an absorbing and eye-opening study based on wide research, illustrated by a variety of fascinating photographs. ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL