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For better or worse, recordings make reputations, but books sometimes help as well. Peter Dickinson's The Music of Lennox Berkeley was first published in 1988, a year before the composer's death. We now have a new and much enlarged second edition to coincide with the centenary of the birth.

The Music of Lennox Berkeley by Peter Dickinson. © 2003 Boydell & Brewer
The Music of Lennox Berkeley by Peter Dickinson. © 2003 Boydell & Brewer

As it happens, there is already quite a good deal of critical material about Berkeley's music, but it is scattered and sometimes inaccessible. Dickinson's is the only full-length monograph. He is very good on issues such as the shadows, real or imaginary, cast by Britten on Berkeley's music, the French connection (Nadia Boulanger as teacher, Poulenc as life-long friend, etc), and some of Berkeley's characteristic compositional processes. The revised and corrected list of the complete works, included as an appendix, is probably now definitive. The bibliography is selective, but very useful nevertheless. Critical analyses are quite numerous and invariably judicious. Copious music examples support the text.

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Copyright © 24 August 2003 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK

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