Two extraordinary personalities, and one remarkable friendship, are reflected in the unique corpus of letters from Anglo-Parsi composer-critic Kaikhosru Sorabji (1892-1988) to Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) (1894-1930): a fascinating primary source for the period 1913-1922 available in a complete scholarly edition for the first time.

The volume also provides a new contextual, critical and interpretative framework, incorporating a myriad of perspectives: identities, social geographies, style construction, and mutual interests and influences. Pertinent period documents, including evidence of Heseltine’s reactions, enhance the sense of narrative and expand on aesthetic discussions. Through the letters’ entertaining and perceptive lens, Sorabji’s early life and compositions are vividly illuminated and Heseltine’s own intriguing life and work recontextualised. What emerges takes us beyond tropes of otherness and eccentricity to reveal a persona and a narrative with great relevance to modern-day debates on canonicity and identity, especially the nexus of ethnicity, queer identities and Western art music.

Scholars, performers and admirers of early twentieth-century music in Britain, and beyond, will find this a valuable addition to the literature. The book will appeal to those studying or interested in early musical modernism and its reception; cultural life in London around and after the First World War; music, nationality and race; Commonwealth studies; and music and sexuality.



Brian Sewell, 'Outsider, Always almost:never quite'
Published by Quartet books on 24 November 2011 at £25
ISBN 978 0 7043 7256 6
Available at at £16.25 hardback or on Kindle at £11.95
or in America at $9.99

This is a compelling companion to Nigel Heseltine's 'Capriol for Mother', published by Thames in 1994. Here, another son of Peter Warlock's give an account of his childhood, and of the times at his school, college and his first job until the late 1960s.



Click HERE for direct news from the Boydell & Brewer web site.

The Collected Letters of Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) [4 volume set]
Edited by Barry Smith

The composer Philip Heseltine (1894-1930), better known by his pseudonym 'Peter Warlock', is one of the most fascinating characters in twentieth-century English music. Educated at Eton and Oxford, yet musically largely self-taught, he is considered by many to be one of the great English song-writers. But besides being a composer, he was also an important pioneer editor of early music as well as the author of a number of books and numerous articles for newspapers and journals. His eccentric life-style, his outspoken comments and writings about music, as well as the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, have all ensured that the 'Warlock legend' has not lost its fascination over the years. During his short life he was a prolific and highly articulate letter writer and some thousand of his letters have survived. These the Warlock scholar and authority Barry Smith has edited with copious annotations and footnotes as well as generous background material.

37 b/w illustrations
1600 pages
Size: 23 x 15 cm
ISBN: 1843830809
Binding: Hardback
Publication date: 01/Apr/2005
Price: 375.00 USD / 200.00 GBP
Imprint: Boydell Press

Frederick Delius and Peter Warlock:

A Friendship Revealed.

Ed. Barry Smith
Oxford University Press, £50

This long awaited publication is aptly prefaced with two quotations:

I value his letters to me among my most precious treasures
(Heseltine to his mother, 13th December 1911)

I thank you for the confidence you bestow upon me in writing me so thoroughly & frankly all about your life, thoughts & doings - it is a letter from a real and loving friend . . .
(Delius to Heseltine, 2nd January 1914)

Who better equipped than Barry Smith to bring together this comprehensive and highly illuminating collection of nearly 400 letters, most of which have not hitherto appeared in print. Dr Smith has already more than won his spurs with his eminently level-headed biography of Warlock, published originally as a hardback in 1994 and currently available as a paperback. Subsequently his edition of the whole of Heseltine's journalism about music - erudite, combative and always very readable - was published by Thames in four volumes. Dr Smith has proved tireless in pursuit of the facts and scrupulous in his editing; these qualities serve him well in the new volume. His achievement is all the greater when you consider that he lives in Cape Town and is thus somewhat removed from many of the prime information sources so vital in addressing such a task.

Composers in general have not shown much willingness to unbutton themselves when corresponding with their fellow composers. But here is an exception - something altogether more illuminating: a close friendship sustained over 19 years by two complex, articulate men of very different ages prepared to reveal themselves in a wide variety of ways. On the one side Delius, the hard-headed father figure; on the other Heseltine, the young and deeply insecure hero-worshipper grappling none too successfully with the problems of growing up. At least, that was how it began, with Heseltine 16 and Delius 49. Both were from well-to-do backgrounds, were strongly anti-establishment and rebels by nature, and were largely self-taught. The relationship developed into something of an altogether deeper and more comprehensive order, with both parties ever-ready to discourse on almost every topic under the sun: careers, religion, family, friends, sex, music-world gossip, and the music of other composers. Heseltine's vulnerability is often painful: for all his intelligence and curiosity he was slow to mature and very confused about how he was to proceed in life, a confusion which, alas, never resolved itself There were those - Beecham among them - who said subsequently that Delius's influence was not necessarily beneficial.

The letters are grouped in years, each with an editorial piece placing the correspondence in context. Footnotes (alas, in extremely small type) illuminate facts and names, and due deference is paid to the example set by Lionel Carley in his two-volume collection (1988) of Delius correspondence.

This volume of nearly 500 pages, including 13 photos, is a stimulating - if sometimes unsettling - read, well worth the wait. It's certainly a major addition to the Delius/Warlock canon. Even some of the day-to-day material about such matters as travel arrangements serves to illuminate.

There's only one fly in the ointment: despite financial support from interested parties, the selling price puts the book well beyond the pockets of so many who would wish to own it, a dilemma quite often encountered with this publisher (at one point, I hear, they were going to ask £65!) and also Ashgate/Scolar. One can only hope, perhaps in vain, for a paperback version eventually but, in the meantime, try by fair means or foul to get your hands on a copy.

John Bishop

A Memoir of Philip Heseltine, by
CECIL GRAY (1895-1951)

Warlock lovers throughout the world owe an everlasting debt to Cecil Gray. His moving and yet often controversial memoir written a few years after his friend’s death, is well worth investigating. It was Gray whose biography revealed the magical impact of Warlock's life and music. Most of the ensuing literature that follows Gray's work is directly due to his own tribute to his friend Heseltine. Although long out of print, many libraries the world over will have Gray's book which deserves to be read despite the criticism of his book. ~ Richard Valentine

Cecil Gray wrote:

“Toward the end of September Philip and I met again. We stood, I remember, awhile on Westminster Bridge, just below Big Ben, to gaze up-river at a quince-coloured moon, slightly veiled by a tawny skein of vapour, sinking its round head in deeps of fuliginous cloud. A curious calm overhung us. I had applied for a commission and, having a far sharper imaginative notion of what modern war was like than most of my contemporaries, did not expect to survive and had already accomplished one half of that act of renunciation which was to be completed, in so far as in me lay, almost exactly a year later. Philip has expressed what he then felt in the following poem:”


I watched the moon set in a sea of golden gloom
Like a soft horn-tone, merging in the twilight chord:
Yet in the sickle image of the moon a sword
Lurks, and the horn but echoes trumpet shrieks of doom -
And men exult to drink the darkness of the tomb,
To pay the great price for the steely mastery,
And scorn to live and dream, and taste the ecstasy
The moon sheds, sinking in a sea of sable gloom.

October 14th, 1914

* * * * * * * * * *

Note: Cecil Gray’s book: “Peter Warlock - A Memoir of Philip Heseltine”
was first published in 1934 by Jonathan Cape Ltd.



Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) is without doubt one of the most fascinating and most enigmatic of all twentieth-century composers. Born in 1894 into a well-to-do London family and educated at Eton, he dropped out of Oxford and was swept into a reckless and at times irresponsible life in London’s Bohemia.

Set in the uncertain years after the first World War, this story tells of a brilliant, yet unhappy young man, a sensitive song-writer 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 Frederick Delius, Bernard van Dieren, D.H. Lawrence, Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, Constant Lambert, and William Walton. It tells of his dangerous involvement in the occult and its disturbing and long-lasting effects, of his passionate loves and hates, and of dramas of intrigue and mystery, all of which end on a cold winter’s morning in 1930 in a gas-filled flat in Chelsea.

This is the first major biographical study of the composer to appear since Cecil Gray’s memoir, which appeared soon after Warlock’s death when too many of the central characters were still alive for the real, frequently outrageous, story to be told. Using new and often controversial material only recently available, Barry Smith attempts here to give a complete account of the man, the composer, writer, and scholar.


Published in 1994, the centenary of Heseltine's birth, this book is only the second major and authoritative work on the subject of this controversial figure. The first one by Warlock's friend and some time companion Cecil Gray, has been out of print for many years.

Published by Oxford University Press, this is an extremely well researched work. Warlock scholars are recommended to add this book to their small but unique collection of literature pertaining to a figure (in the musical sense) of inimitable quality. Hardback and Paperback now available.

Richard Valentine
[ISBN 0-19-8166060] pub. OUP + 44 - 01865-556767*
*Omit the "0" when dialling from overseas. This becomes + 44 - 1865 556767

The book written by Barry Smith is available from (U.K. Site) Just click the image to order.
In Association with

The Composer by Brian Collins

Peter Warlock is one of several pseudonyms adopted by the critic, researcher, editor and composer. Philip Heseltine (1894 - 1930). Previous studies of Warlock have been almost exclusively biographical, using the pseudonyms as evidence of a split personality and applying this and other controversial aspects of his colourful life-style to an evaluation of his music.

Brian Collins's refreshing new analysis of Warlock's output shows such approaches as often misleading. Focusing on key elements of Warlock's compositional techniques, such as his preoccupation with chordal material, Collins demonstrates that the early songs, often tonally adventurous and heavily influenced by Delius and van Dieren, are natural precursors to the more familiar later style. This later style is more suited to the contemplative and philosophical songs that, many may be interested to learn, make up the majority of his output.

Nevertheless, Warlock has been criticized for writing what Gerald Cockshott called 'all those songs about beer'; in analysing his choice of subject matter and the respect he accorded to the natural stresses of the texts he used, this book offers more penetrating insights into the composer's motivations and achievements. As such it is vital reading for those concerned with the evolution of British music in the early part of this century.

Brian Collins's interest in Warlock's music stem from hearing some of the songs whilst still at school and was encouraged by his tutor, Louis Pearson, at Bede College Durham who organized a special Warlock festival. He is now a Vice President of the Peter Warlock Society.

Published in 1996 by Scholar Press in the UK and Ashgate Publishing Company in the USA. Hardback only (at present). You can do a simple search for Brian Collins' book from Ashgate Publishing Company's main page.

[ISBN 1-85928-216-4] pub. Scolar Press + 44 - 01252-331551*

*Omit the "0" when dialling from overseas. This becomes + 44 - 1252-331551

Peter Warlock: Family & Influences
Centenary 1994

Philip Heseltine (`Peter Warlock') was a colourful personality and outstandingly original British composer. His masterpiece, The Curlew, was completed in mid-Wales in 1922. This book is printed by Gomer Press, Llandysul, Dyfed, SA44 4BQ and published in association with the Peter Warlock Society (Hon. Sec. Malcolm Rudland, 32a Chipperfield House, Cale St, London SW3 3SA) of which Ian Parrott is a vice-president.

The Society was founded by Patrick Mills, an Advisory Committee being set up in May, 1963, with Gerald Cockshott, chairman, and Ian Copley, Arnold Foster, Christopher le Fleming, Tony Payne, Norman Gilbert, Frank Howes and Felix Aprahamian. Copies may also be obtained from the Welsh Books Council, Glanyrafon Industrial Estate, Aberystwyth, Dyfed SY23 2JB.

Professor Parrott's interest in the composer dates back to his undergraduate days at New College, Oxford, when on 30 May 1937 he conducted a concert of Warlock's music at St Hugh's College. His article, `Warlock in Wales', which appeared in `The Musical Times' of October 1964, helped to show that there was much to be discovered about the family in mid-Wales.

Ian Parrott is a composer, whose Luxor won the Royal Philharmonic Society First Prize in 1949. He is also a vice-president of the Elgar Society and of the Guild for the Promotion of Welsh Music. He was Gregynog Professor of Music at University College, Aberystwyth, from 1950 to 1983, where on 30 November 1953 he put on A Cornish Christmas Carol (No.2) in Cornish - probably a unique occasion, as noted by Dr Copley in his `The Music of Peter Warlock' (Dobson 1979).

ISBN 1 85902 121 2

Printed by Gomer Press, Llandysul, Dyfed.


the man - his music - his world

This book brings together 30 writers - past and present - to celebrate the centenary of the birth of one of the most magnetic, if controversial, figures in English musical history. In his brief working life of about 17 years, cut short by his untimely death in 1930, he achieved much as a composer of well over a hundred wide-ranging solo songs (now published in eight volumes), as a pioneer editor of early music, and as a penetrating and erudite commentator on the musical scene. The compilers of this volume have gathered some stimulating and highly individual views of a man whose complex persona continues to be the source of much lively speculation. The views span some 60 years and include impressions by some who knew Warlock personally; many of the contributions have been written specifically for this centenary volume.

The contributors are -- Denis Apivor, Felix Aprahamian, Robert Beckhard, Rodney Bennett, Frank Callaway, Alastair Chisholm, Brian Collins, David Cox, Arnold Dowbiggin, Eric Fenby, Lewis Foreman, Keith Gould, Cecil Gray, Brian Hammond, Trevor Hold, Arthur Hutchings, Ernest Kaye, Beryl Kington, Paul Ladmirault, Patrick Mills, C W Orr, Ian Parrott, Anthony Payne, Florence Peck, Andrew Plant, Elizabeth Poston, Barry Smith, Philip Stone, Fred Tomlinson -- and Philip Heseltine himself.

ISBN 0 905210 76 X
Thames Publishing - London
+ 44 - (0)181 969 3579

by Malcolm Gillies

BARTÓK IN BRITAIN tackles Bartók's personality afresh, through a detailed study of the series of British concert tours which the Hungarian composer undertook between 1904 and 1938. Based on a complex web of Hungarian, British and American sources, the book records the views of Bartók and his British acquaintances on such issues as his pianism, composition and social questions. The investigation is set against a backdrop of British musical life of the period, with its rapid changes in attitudes to music and to its propagation.

One chapter in the book is devoted to Bartók's relationship with the composer-critics Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) and Cecil Gray. It traces the development of Heseltine's early interest in Bartók's music while still a schoolboy at Eton, through the promotional ventures he hatched, along with Cecil Gray, to expose Bartók's music to the British public, to a detailed study of the preparations for Bartók's first post-war visit to Britain in 1922. The chapter also provides accounts of the visits of Heseltine and Gray to Bartók in Budapest in 1921, and Bartók's own visit to London and to Wales in March 1922.

BARTÓK IN BRITAIN (ISBN 0-19-315262-2) was published by Oxford University Press in 1989, and is still available in British bookshops or through:

Consumer Service Department
Oxford University Press
Saxon Way West
Northants NN18 9ES

The Occasional Writings of Philip Heseltine
(Peter Warlock)
Edited and introduced by Barry Smith

As well as being a highly individual composer in his own right, and a pioneer editor of early music, Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) did much else in his short life (1894 - 1930). He was a prolific journalist and commentator on music, and this is the first of four books (the other three will be issued in 1998) which bring together all his occasional writings.

The series is being edited by Barry Smith, author of a much praised biography of Warlock, and this first volume includes, amongst other material, all his articles for the outspoken magazine The Sackbut, of which he was editor for a short period. These concert reviews, articles and letters show his acutely receptive and combative mind at its most wide-ranging. His enviable skill with words allows him to be consistently penetrating and incisive, with an occasional vein of humour to sweeten the pill.

[ISBN 0 903413 99 X]


The first of four projected volumes, this is a very welcome collection, edited by Barry Smith the author of what is now the "standard" biography of Peter Warlock. Here we have all 69 of Heseltine's shorter writings on music, including those in newspapers, his reviews and his letters to the press. These include his contributions to The Sackbut (16 items, all but two dating from 1920) and MILO (three items), neither title particularly easy to find. Then there are the 33 reviews he wrote for The Daily Mail in the first half of 1915 and items for six other journals. We can look forward to the longer articles in a later volume.

This is enjoyable as a straight read, for Heseltine's often mordant commentary is entertaining in its own right, but all collections of such material are valuable to those studying their period, and all interested in British music - indeed modern music - in the 1920's will find this illuminating. (Malcolm MacDonald's edition of the Havergal Brian writings on British music, published in 1986, were a case in point, though they covered a much wider time-span.) Heseltine is particularly rewarding for his much narrower subject and date range, and for his championship of modern music, particularly Bartók. The vivid snapshot of London musical activity in 1915, painted in Heseltine's Daily Mail reviews, was well worth doing on its own account, and shows us a surprisingly lively and active scene. I is also particularly useful to have an index to this material.

Barry Smith contributes a short but informative introduction, sketching earlier attempts to collect Heseltine's writings. The articles are only lightly annotated, and from time to time one wishes the editor could have provided more background or details of, say, an unfamiliar name. But for all that this is going to become a valuable and much used source book, particularly when all four volumes are available.

Lewis Foreman © 1998

Published by Thames
14 Barlby Road
London W10 6AR
Tel: + 44 - (0)181-969 3579
Fax: + 44 - (0)181-969 1465

(Peter Warlock)
Edited and introduced by Barry Smith

As well as being a highly individual composer in his own right, Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) achieved much else in his short life (1894 - 1930). He was a prolific journalist and commentator on music, and this is the second of four books which bring together all his occasional writings. The series has been edited by Barry Smith, author of a much praised biography of Warlock.

Long before the Early Music movement of the last 30 years, Heseltine was active as a pioneer editor in this field. His writings on the subject, collected here, show his investigative and combative mind at its most wide-ranging. His enviable skill with words allows him to be always penetrating and incisive, with occasional touches of humour to sweeten the pill. This makes engaging reading, and not just for those particularly interested in early music.

Thames Publishing - 1998


Each of these volumes runs to more than 150 pages and contains music criticism or musicology by one of the most perceptive and entertaining exponents of these arts this century. The value of these fascinating books is inestimable but informs no only the Warlockian in-crowd; they provide, indirectly, a catalogue of what British music-lovers, audiences and practitioners were encountering and performing in the second and third decades of this century. I would love to quote a few examples of Heseltine's style from the first of these two but I wouldn't be able to adequately choose a few representatives of the many; read the book and a scornful - but wonderfully crafted - phrase arrests the eye on most pages. It's not all negative but, when it is, it is deliciously so. The second volume demonstrates more of Warlock the proselytizer, the early music enthusiast, an expert and something of an esoteric figure who, nevertheless, had a mission to convert. The writing here is learned but direct.

The whole of each book, then, is a treasure-house of opinion and discovery; but hasn't all of the stuff been around for years? Haven't scholars and researchers been quoting from it for a long time, in the pages of this organ and elsewhere? Of course they have; I've been responsible for some of that sort of thing myself by and by. Point the first: all of us who have been engaged in that kind of activity have had to comb through references, fill out seemingly endless inter-library loan forms and wait for variable periods of time to elapse before we troll off to one institution or another to pick up sheafs of fragile photocopies; now all of the material is readily and economically contained in these books and the two that will follow. Point the second: all that material that was formerly the preserve of the academic prepared to go through the tiresome process outlined above is available to anybody, anywhere. Now.

These books have been largely a labour of love on the part of Barry Smith. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. The volumes themselves are well made and should survive the constant "dipping-in" to which they will be subjected. As we approach the next millenium it is all too easy to think of the future and its promise, and perhaps we should. But the past is fascinating too and shouldn't be jettisoned just because its former novelties are now old-hat. Smith and Thames Publishing have here provided an important pointer to an era in which the music and movements which have shaped the later years of the twentieth century were new and exciting. Moreover this has been achieved through some of the most stimulating verbal accounts of their kind obtainable.

Brian Collins. ISBN 0 903413 94 9

Published by Thames
14 Barlby Road
London W10 6AR
Tel: + 44 - (0)181-969 3579
Fax: + 44 - (0)181-969 1465

(Peter Warlock)

Edited and introduced by Barry Smith

In this further selection - the third of four - of Philip Heseltine's critical writings, Delius's music features prominently. As well as articles, the programme notes Heseltine wrote for the ambitious Delius Festival of 1929 are included.

But Heseltine's other interests are not neglected: Berlioz, Liszt, Elgar, Bartók, Goosens, Moeran and van Dieren are all subjected to his astute judgements. Particularly striking is the article on Schoenberg - one of the first to appear in England on this subject - written when Heseltine was only 17. It appeared in the Musical Standard and led to a lively correspondence in that journal.

ISBN 0 903413 44 2

Thames Publishing - London

(Peter Warlock)

Edited and introduced by Barry Smith

As well as being a highly individual composer in his own right, and a pioneer editor of early music, Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) did much else in his short life (1894 - 1930). He was a prolific journalist and commentator on music, and this is the fourth and final volume in a series which has brought together all his occasional writings. The core of this volume is a series of programme notes on a very wide range of composers form Bach to Strauss. There are also two vintage lectures, and articles on three of his particular interests - Delius, van Dieren and Sorabji - and even an early schoolboy effort on an aspect of the Welsh railway system! These writings show his acutely perceptive and observant mind at its most wide-ranging.

ISBN 0 905211 05 7

Thames Publishing London



Peter Warlock (1894 - 1930) is one of the great song-writers of the English tradition, and among composers of modern times the only one who can bear comparison with the masters of the Elizabethan-Jacobean tradition. His imagination, indeed, was fired by these masters whose ideals he revivified in more ways than one. Warlock was a pioneer of musicology and his contribution to the present general knowledge of 17th century music was very great. But he was also a composer of vision, who knew intuitively what was music and what was not. His style, compounded from a deep appreciation of both ancient and modern techniques and a rare insight into literary values, is as complex as it is enchanting. This much is known to all those who love his famous songs.

Dr. Copley's analysis of the nature and structure of Warlock's music is precise and illuminating. Based on an examination of the whole of the music, both published and unpublished, and on a consideration of Warlock's contemporaries, this book must be regarded as the authoritative work on the composer.* It deals with general questions but also individual works, and is amplified by invaluable catalogues raisonés. There are a large number of musical examples as well as pictorial illustrations.

It is lovingly and beautifully written - there was an inordinate delay in publication which meant that new information had come to light between completion and publication. [Tim Haillay]

[ISBN 0 234 77249 2] Dobson Books 1979
+ 44 - 0191 378 0628*

*Omit the "0" when dialing from overseas.
This becomes + 44 - 1913 780628

Thanks and credit to Tim Haillay for supplying this information.
* This was obviously correct at time of writing - this commentary is verbatim from book jacket.

Guides to the repertoire.
Michael Pilkington

Gurney, Ireland, Quilter and Warlock

This series, which aims to cover the whole repertoire of English song, is designed not merely as a practical guide for singers and teachers but also to be of use to the ever-increasing number of students wishing to study particular areas of the subject - the music, the poetry or both.

Michael Pilkington is a leading authority on English song. He studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and subsequently had extensive experience as accompanist and repetiteur, also as conductor for London Ballet and other groups. Since 1964 he has been on the staff of The Guildhall, where, among other activities, he ran a performers' class in English and American song. He has also given workshops in many American universities, and has edited several collections of English song.

ISBN 0 905210 91 3



and his family by his son

Since the untimely death of Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) in 1930, at the age of 36, there has been ever-increasing interest not only in the songs and other music of this most original composer and writer on music, but also in the so-called `Warlock legend' - the unusual circumstances and events of his life, and the tragic and unexplained manner in which his life ended. Apart from natural causes, there are three ways he could have died: accident, suicide, or murder.

Much has been written about this magnetic personality, including fictional portraits by Aldous Huxley in Antic Hay and by D H Lawrence in Women in Love. Now, Nigel Heseltine, son of the composer, gives an authentic and vivid memoir of his father; of his father's mother, a commanding figure by whom Nigel was reared in his early years; and other personalities and friends. It has been necessary to wait some 30 years, until certain people were dead, before this book could be published. This is a frank, revealing account of a family background and its influence, from which emerged, unexpectedly, one of the most important 20th-century song writers, also a pioneer in the rediscovery of early music, and a trenchant writer on music in general.

Thames Publishing - London [1992]
ISBN 0 905210 S1 6

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