Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic of twentieth-century British composers. He was by turns a sensitive songwriter of remarkable genius, a witty and caustic critic, a rare scholar of early music, and a friend of some of the leading figures of the day - including William Walton, Jacob Epstein, and D. H. Lawrence. This is a complete account of this mercurial musician. Barry Smith uses new and often controversial material in telling his real, and frequently outrageous story. Here is the man, the composer, writer, and scholar, from his dangerous involvement in the occult to his long-lasting
loves and hates - all of which ended by his own hand in a gas-filled London flat on a cold winter's morning in 1930.
Readership: Those interested in English music and musical life in the early twentieth century.
Barry Smith, Organist at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, and Associate Professor of Music, University of Cape Town
"`Barry Smith has done his subject proud in this centenary year ... has unearthed new material of real interest.'
"`containing often controversial material only recently available'
"`Barry Smith, a South African musicologist, writes in clear, safe prose, doubtless aware that his subject generates a yet greater resonance outside the music world than in ... the emphasis is on providing a well-researched life story, the first since Cecil Gray's in 1934 ... Professor Smith is a well-behaved biographer who knows his stuff.'
Fiona Maddocks, The Spectator"
"`a conscientiously researched biography ... this is the most substantial work about Peter Warlock in modern times, and a great deal of new information has had to be summarized in its 300 pages ... it is hard to stop reading.'
Times Literary Supplement"
"`Barry Smith marshals all the documents into a competent narrative,'
"`superbly detailed account of Heseltine's life and music, a book which has resolved so many questions, unanswered since the fascinating vignettes of Cecil Gray, Augustus John, Robert Nichols and Richard Terry, gathered under one cover ... The book follows a pathway of genius and burning quests; of horror and humour; but all of it unforgettable.'
BBC Music Magazine"
"`Smith has written what will prove to be the definitive life of this strange man who could arouse intense admiration and equally intense dislike in those who met him.'
The Citizen, Johannesburg"
"`Excellent new biography ... Barry Smith has produced a scholarly yet highly readable book ... thoroughly absorbing, well-researched book, which will remain the standard biography for many years to come.'
Choir & Organ"
"`Barry Smith has done his subject proud in this centenary year. He draws heavily on letters and reminiscences - sometimes at considerable length - and has unearthed new material of real interest.'
NBDavid Lloyd-Jones, Yorkshire Post"
"'Barry Smith tells this strange story with fairness and balance. Events are set against copious extracts from letters and appraisals of the music.'
John Amis, The Tablet"
"'well documented biography'
Wilfrid Mellers, The Musical Times, August 1994"
"'superbly detailed account of Heseltine's life and music'
BBC Music Magazine"
"`an admirably concise portrait ... There is no padding, either from pop psychology or pointless musicological analysis, and the result is a model portrait of an artist.'
Scotland on Sunday"
"'What Smith does is to provide, for the first time, enough material for us to see Warlock as a person, not a mythical figure. There is not sensationalism here, and no groupism: Smith's love of his subject is obviously rooted in the music.'
"'splendid biography ... one cannot easily imagine this study being superseded by a better one ... It is extremely readable, and Barry Smith presents the facts in a lucid and straightforward way without, thankfully, being tempted to put Heseltine on the psychiatrist's couch. This finely-researched study not only brings forward much fresh material but also throws doubt on several aspects of Nigel Heseltine's Capriol for Mother. It can be thoroughly recommended to Warlockians and Delians alike.'
The Delius Society Journal, Autumn/Winter 1994, No. 115"