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The Music of E.J. Moeran [Hardcover]

Geoffrey Self
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 1986
E.J. Moeran (1894-1950) is one of the outstanding British composers of his generation, his music championed by Sir Adrian Boult, Vernon Handley, Norman Del Mar and others. His work covers a considerable variety of forms, from the widely acclaimed Symphony in G minor to exquisite songs and piano miniatures. But hi life and career were far from easy. A grievous shrapnel wound in World War I left him with a tendency towards alcoholism, exacerbated by a riotous four-year sojourn with Peter Warlock, which inhibited his ability to compose. Freed from the weight of Warlock's personality, Moeran went on to complete his Symphony, two concertos, and much else of enduring value and importance. In this first-ever full-length study of his music, Geoffrey Self examines Moeran's output chronologically, from his early piano and chamber music and tone-poems to the late masterpieces of the Cello Concerto and Cello Sonata. GEOFFREY SELF was Head of Music at Cornwall Technical College until 1981. He received a B.Mus. from the University of London and an M.Phil. from Exeter.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Toccata Press (1 Jan 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0907689175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0907689171
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 13.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 682,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Geoffrey Self

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent work of unbiased reference 28 Aug 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Geoffrey Self's book is the ideal work of reference for anyone interested in the music of E J Moeran. It takes us through Moeran's life from start to finish, work by work, and manages to achieve both a credible biography and an expert analysis of almost all of Moeran's output. Musical examples abound, and Self is scrupulous to avoid the over-exuberance of the Moeran fanatic.
If there are small question marks they have to be around Self's habit of relying too heavily on references and models for many of the works - this bit here is clearly influenced by Elgar, that bit by Ireland etc. - which carries through to his conclusion where he asks, and answers the question of whether Moeran had a voice of his own. Perhaps these were questions which needed addressing, but at times one feels he doth protest too much. Whilst helpful to those who know all the referred works as well, it can sometimes get a little distracting when you're trying to get to know Moeran's music for the first time!
This is however a minor niggle which shoudn't stop you from getting a great book...
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relies too much on received opinion 5 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover
This book is one of a mere three to have been written about Moeran and all were first published more than twenty years ago. Self's book is the only one that attempts to combine an outline biography with a detailed catalogue of the works and it is only partially successful on each count. On the biographical side, the author relies too much on received opinion for details of the composer's life - many "authorities" are quoted but there is little evidence that their statements have been checked or verified. A picture of Moeran the man is painted but it is based primarily on hearsay evidence and results in what the author apparently wishes the composer to have been - i.e. a victim of the First World War. Self's eventual assessment of "the Moeran meaning" is predicated on this portrait and may be challenged on the grounds of inaccuracy.

Self's analysis of the music is competent but necessarily superficial - with the exceptions of the larger orchestral works, especially the Symphony in G Minor, where he proposes a detailed theory that it was conceived as a Requiem to the composer's personal loss during the war. Another reviewer has noted Self's preponderance to mention composer after composer as influences on Moeran's style and this does become tedious. An idea put forward by Self is that Moeran used a system of "loci classici" to reference existing works in his compositions and thus promote certain responses. It is an interesting notion but this reviewer found it unconvincing.

As the only (even partial) biography of Moeran available, the book has to be recommended to anybody interested in British Music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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