Three autograph letters signed to pianist and editor Alan Poulton
Written between December 1980 and October 1981, these letters discuss the chronology of several of the composer's compositions for a catalogue that Poulton is compiling.
1) 1-1/4 pp. Small octavo. Dated Spetchley Park, Worcester, December 25, 80. On white stationery with Berkeley's address and telephone number printed at head. "I feel sure that I would benefit greatly from a survey of my work to date such as you are doing for the composers you mention. I would like one of the possible contributors to be Peter Dickinson who has written the article on me in the New Grove. It might be as well to consult my publishers... J & W Chester... I should be glad to hear from you again." Creased at fold.
2) 1-1/3 pp. Quarto. Dated London, September 24, 81. On blue stationery with Berkeley's address and telephone number printed at head. Berkeley apologizes for his belated response. He discusses his Aubade for Organ. He will meet with his publisher, Chester, to discuss the order of his compositions after op. 96 and other queries. "I expect that most of your queries have been answered by now but some I will now try to answer. Aubade for Organ. This is the first of three pieces, Op 72 number 1. The other movements being Aria, and the last, Toccata. 'There was neither grass nor corn' would, as you suppose, have been written in 1949." Creased at fold.
3) 1-1/2pp. Quarto. Dated London, October 15, 81. On blue stationery with Berkeley's address and telephone number printed at head. Once again, Berkeley apologizes for his belated response, and answers several more of Poulton's queries. He will contact Chester for answers to others. He would be happy to meet Poulton in London or Worcester. He mentions the following compositions: Judica me, the first and second sonatas for Violin and Piano, and the Suite for Orchestra. "I know this sounds nonsensical, but I was dissatisfied with my first Violin & Piano Sonata and withdrew it. I then wrote another one – it was a considerable improvement, so I decided to make it my Opus 1 forgetting that it was called No. 2 when published. I regard it as my first published work, so I think its best just to call it Op 1." Creased at folds.
"From the same generation as Walton and Tippett, [Berkeley] has little connection with national traditions represented by them or by Elgar and Vaughan Williams earlier. This is partly because of his French ancestry and temperament which made him closer to Fauré, and to Ravel and Poulenc who were both personal friends. Berkeley admired Mozart above all, then Chopin, Ravel and the neo-classical Stravinsky. His own idiom is built from an overt melodic expression, usually rooted in tonality and allied to a fastidious command of harmony and orchestral texture. Religious subjects in particular invariably gave rise to vocal music of unusual spiritual intensity, a mood also reflected in his instrumental slow movements... Though he was at his most distinctive in the 1940s and 50s, the achievement of his later extended language is considerable. His is an enduring, cultivated and imaginative voice in 20th-century British music." Peter Dickinson and Joan Redding in Grove Music Online.
Alan Poulton is the compiler and editor of A Dictionary-Catalogue of Modern British Composers, among other music reference works.
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