MADELEINE DRING, HER MUSIC, HER LIFE
ISBN O 9537893 0 6. viii + 88pp softback.
£10.99 + £1.00 p & p from www.madeleinedring.com
Madeleine Dring (1923-77) was a miniaturist of genius.
Her works encompassed a considerable range. There are over fifty songs,
including settings of Shakespeare, Herrick and Betjeman and piano pieces
(some for two pianos), a few substantial ones, including a Sonata for
two pianos and an early (1938), published 1948) Fantasy Sonata, but
mostly short, dancelike and tuneful. There are a number of instrumental
items with piano, notably for oboe (she was married for 30 years to
oboist Roger Lord) and including two trios for winds and piano. There
is also a considerable corpus of entertaining incidental music, intimate
reviews, even opera.
In this book Ro Hancock-Child, a professional pianist,
sketches Dring’s life, using diaries from 1935-43, and then discusses
the music under the chapter headings Piano Music, Instrumental
Music and Songs with the aid of musical examples. She points
out Dring’s preoccupation with spiritualism and psychic matters generally
and attempts to relate this to her creativity.
The book is an invaluable pioneer effort. It includes
four pages of black and white photographs, many of Dring’s own line
drawings, a discography including American and unpublished recordings
(but not Alan Cuckston and Jill Crowther’s version of Italian Dance
on Swinsty FEW 124), a (brief) bibliography and a virtually complete
list of works which – so far as I know – misses only one anthem and
some orchestrations of Dring’s music by others. I recommend it warmly.
Philip L. Scowcroft
See also review by Rob Barnett