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QUADRILLE WITH A RAVEN


Memoirs By Humphrey Searle © Fiona Searle


To Fiona and in memory of Lesley

© BBC/Don Smith

Humphrey started writing his memoirs 1976 when in California. He was Composer in Residence at USC in L.A. from 76-77. He had very little time to work on them after his return to London in '77 and not much interest in writing about himself.  He finally finished them just before his death in 1982.


MEMOIRS OF A COMPOSER

There was an old man of Whitehaven
Who danced a quadrille with a raven.
They said "It's absurd
To encourage that bird",
So they smashed that old man of Whitehaven

                                                                                     Edward Lear






"Humphrey Searle was the greatest encourager and animator of other people's lives and talents I have ever known. He was so modest that he forgot to promote his own great talents".                                 Malcolm Arnold


CONTENTS


1. PROLOGUE: LOST ON THE IRRAWADDY
     Parents' marriage in Rangoon

2. OXFORD: EARLY YEARS
     Grandparents - parents - schooling after kindergarten - other relatives

3. COLD, DAMP AND FULL OF COLONELS
     Grandparents - aunts - scholarship to Winchester - interest in music develops
4. "YOU CANT TAKE THE CIVIL SERVICE EXAM"
     Oxford - tutoring - clubs - composition - helping with operas and concerts - Greats - Paris

5. LONDON AND VIENNA
     A room in Bayswater - Walton's suggestion: to study with John Ireland - meeting Webern - Nazis' hostility to
     Schoenberg

6. FIVE HUNDRED COPIES OF MESSIAH
     Back in England - teaching -post of chorus librarian - a room off Portland Place - meetings with Constant Lambert and      Edith Sitwell - letter from Webern - Bloom's request to write on Liszt

7. MARSHFIELD
     Outbreak of war - letter from James Joyce - collaboration on scores for two films - meeting John Davenport - the
     Army

8. SILENT KILLING
     Horfield Barracks - camping out (Eastville Park) - Intelligence Corps and Special Operations Executive (Winchester) -      operations overseas in the offing - Wentworth Woodhouse

9. HITLER'S WILL
     Rhine army Headquarters - news of Webern's death - discovery of Hitler's will - conducting concerts - demobilization
     following end of war

10. BBC BEDLAM
       Staying with father - former job kept open - first week of Third Programme - contacts with Hannen Swaffer and
       Osbert Sitwell - St John's Wood

11. LESLEY, AND R0SIE'S PUB
       Introduced to Lesley Gray - Poem for 22 Strings - Book on Structural - Functions of Harmony - Constant Lambert  
       and Cecil Gray die - The Riverrun ( from Finnegans Wake ) - setting The Shadow of Cain (Edith Sitwell) and The
       Owl and the Pussy-Cat (Lear)

12. BREAKTHROUGH
       David Gascoygne and Night Thoughts - a ballet (Noctambules) and its production - Gascoygne and A Celebration of
       Festivals - with Lesley to the Prague Spring Festival - meetings with Petri, Stravinsky and Henze - Lesley's death

13. INTERLUDE
        Introduced to actor Patrick Wymark - in preparation: The Diary of a Madman - ballet score expanded into "the life of         the great peacock moth"  - Venice and Greece

14. "WHO'S STOLEN ME GARNI?"
        Introduced to Fiona Nicholson - wedding and honeymoon - reporting the Granada Festival - other travels - visit from
        Ionesco

15. TWO NEW CONTINENTS
        News from South Africa of Fiona's ailing stepfather - flight to Johannesburg - lecturing in Cape Town - by ship to  
        New York, thence to California, Mexico and Colorado

16. TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
       With the RCM staff - work on Hamlet - New York - London again - trips to Hamburg for Hamlet rehearsals -
       Hamlet put on in Toronto - talk on Hamlet to Friends of Covent Garden

17. LABYRINTH
       Awarded CBE - Cyprus - British Arts Week in Vienna - Budapest and Esztergom - suggested collaboration with  
       Samuel Beckett - a motoring tour - Labyrinth at the Proms - the Savage Club

18. AMERICA AGAIN
        The American bicentenary - Anne Bradstreet - prospect of lecturing
       in America - introductory talk for The Photo of the Colonel

19. FAUSTUS AND THE ORESTEIA
       The background of Faustus - death of brother - Cyprus again -  
       prospect of writing music for the Oresteia - Thamesis - commissions
       -  anniversaries to be celebrated musically - other work looming

20. EPILOGUE
        Beliefs and reflections

Hoffnung cartoon of Humphrey Searle © Annetta Hoffnung


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