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The Songs of Norman Peterkin

SRCD362
£14.99

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In December 1982 my old friend Norman Peterkin passed away in his sleep at the age of almost 96 in a Guildford hospital. For so many years he had seemed immortal that I could scarcely believe the news. At first the grief was personal, but later I realised that he had been making a significant contribution to many different aspects of British music for over sixty years and so the loss was thus more widespread. Latterly he had been known in two roles: as a “grandad” figure for the Music Department of Oxford University Press and as the composer of the song, “I heard a piper piping”. He had outlived most of the contemporaries who might have remembered other facets of his life, e.g. his contributions to musical life in far flung parts of the old Empire, and his work in the 1920s with the composers’ circle in Liverpool.

To begin with his own compositions were written in a style similar to that of Grieg, but he was open to all the contemporary influences in music and literature – to Debussy and Delius and to Yeats and Maeterlinck. Another significant influence was the music of Cyril Scott, whose First Piano Sonata of 1909 made a great impression on the young Peterkin and was to remain a favourite with him.

History will give Norman Peterkin an unusual position in the hierarchy of twentieth century British music and musicians. For some of his songs he will be known as a subtle, imaginative composer of considerable distinction. As a publisher he will always be associated with Hubert Foss, but as one who was known as a poet in music and a musician in publishing he will have a niche all his own. Alastair Chisholm

The Songs of Norman Peterkin

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