> MADELEINE DRING, HER MUSIC, HER LIFE [PS]: Book Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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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four pages of black and white photographs, many of Dring’s own line drawings, a discography including American and unpublished recordings (but not Alan Cuckston and Jill Crowther’s version of Italian Dance on Swinsty FEW 124), a (brief) bibliography and a virtually complete list of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

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