Love Letters and Poems of Arnold Bax

ISBN 0-9535125-3-3

Dermot O’Byrne


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Review excerpts

…am absolutely THRILLED with it … a truly beautiful book … congratulations to all involved.
customer feedback
What we have here are all the poems of Arnold Bax … or, at least, all the ones known to Colin Scott-Sutherland, the editor, who is also the first Bax scholar in modern times. The poems are as written under Bax’s own name as well as those published under the name of his Irish ‘doppelganger’, Dermot O’Byrne. The editor has also in-gathered a selection of the composer’s teenage love letters.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
Colin’s dogged determination to the Bax cause – sharing Bax’s creative work with the world – complements the now more celebrated work of fellow Baxian, Lewis Foreman.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
Each poem in IDEALA is carefully footnoted to explain obscure references. Alternative versions are also recorded with variorum diligence.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
The book … is very solidly case-bound in bleached cream boards inlaid with gold stamped titling and using rondel designs from an early edition of Swinburne’s Atalanta in Calydon.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
I do not underestimate the dedication invested in this work by the editor and the publisher. It must have been a phenomenal task.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
This sumptuously presented book is a prominent landmark in the Bax literature and another magus-key to one window into Bax’s musical legacy: a magical casement indeed.
Rob Barnett, British Music Society News 92 (December 2001)
This extensive collection of poems by Bax and his alter ego Dermot O’Byrne, annotated copiously by Bax’s first biographer [Colin Scott-Sutherland] (Arnold Bax, Dent, 1973) and beautifully produced by Fand Music Press, illuminates those years of ardent youth to which he said ‘farewell’ in his autobiography of 1943. The collection includes a 30-page memoir of Arnold and his brother Clifford by their tutor, Francis Colmer, especially written for Scott-Sutherland, and derives its title not only from an early setting of Bjornson – published as The Flute (1923) – but evoking the ideal love of Bax’s many romantic liaisons. Its theme became Bax’s for life: pursuit of unattainable beauty: romantic and realistic.
Ronald Stevenson, International Piano Quarterly
Scott-Sutherland’s ‘IDEALA’ is illustrated (or, rather, illuminated) by an extensive array of photographic plates, most never published before: rare photos and the whole score of The Princess’s Rose-Garden, in homage to Harriet Cohen’s garden, a sumptuous example of Bax’s piano writing, and most unlike much well-mannered English Music. If Bax’s originality had little feeling for scholarly historic perspective, his brother Clifford Bax (also featured in the new book) was a poet with a keen sense of such perspective. His splendid and extensive English anthology, Vintage Verse, has illuminating introductions to each selection (Hollis & Carter, London, 1945).
Ronald Stevenson, International Piano Quarterly
Arnold Bax set to music only four of his own poems: two of them with authorship attributed to his nom-de-plume, Dermot O’Byrne. I recall asking the Scots Gaelic poet Sorley Maclean, “Who is a Gael?” He replied: “One who has the language, the Gaelic.” Now that this ancient language’s survival is threatened, the point is all the more clamant. That authoritative view (from the acknowledged doyen Gaelic poet of recent history) deserves consideration. It is facile to ridicule Bax’s alter ego of Dermot O’Byrne, but Bax had the Irish Gaelic language. The volume under review reproduces the MS of his translation of Synge’s play, The Shadow of the Glen, into Bax’s Irish Gaelic. Synge did not write in Gaelic. Neither did Yeats. Bax did. He justified his nom de plume, Dermot O’Byrne.
Ronald Stevenson, International Piano Quarterly
Detail has been lavished on the book’s presentation. The cover design is appropriately from Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Two young Scottish pianists have recently been playing Bax: Joseph Long and Jeremy Limb, who is a family descendant of Bax. Names to remember. So, after moribund years, Bax is reconsidered. It may herald a renaissance that can only enrich what sometimes seems the recent dry period in British piano music.
Ronald Stevenson, International Piano Quarterly
…written by a phenomenally gifted musician … collected and published by loving hands…
International Record Review
…collected and published by loving hands … written by a phenomenally gifted musician (Bax’s) literary gifts were not insignificant … of appeal to devotees … the editorial notes are useful…
Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review
here is a beautiful and lovingly produced quality volume … exceptional collection
Musical Opinion
…here is a beautiful and lovingly-produced quality volume of his poems, including all of those he wrote under the pseudonym of Dermot O’Byrne, together with some of his Love Letters, happily preserved and made available by the Bax Estate … reading many of the poems is akin to hearing the music contained in the sound of speech. The love letters amplify the poems, all of which is illuminated by the music…
Musical Opinion (September 2001)
IDEALA – a resplendent luxury volume of Bax’s poems and love letters – is a monument to professionalism and to delight in beauty.
Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International (August 2016)
…an absorbing collection of about 260 poems, mostly from the full flowering of Bax’s youth … This splendid case-bound and gold-blocked volume is a pleasure to hold and an essential adjunct to Lewis Foreman’s biography of the composer.
Stephen Lloyd, MusicWeb International and BMS News
This splendid case-bound and gold-blocked volume is a pleasure to hold and an essential adjunct to Lewis Foreman’s biography of the composer. One is extremely grateful to Colin Scott-Sutherland and others who have supplied material to make this invaluable collection possible.
Stephen Lloyd, MusicWeb International and BMS News
The book is a landmark and is essential for all Baxians
The Delian
Colin Scott-Sutherland is to be well and truly congratulated on his achievement in so expertly marshalling and editing all the material … the paper used in this hard-back volume is of high quality, with many photographs, drawings, and other reproductions. There is also a striking front cover design (after Rossetti) in gold embossed on a cream ground, which was inspired by the 1911 deluxe edition of Clifford Bax’s Poems Dramatic and Lyrical. This is a fascinating book, and nobody with a real interest in British music or in the byways of English poetry should be without it … lavish publication… [Graham Parlett is author of A Catalogue of the Works of Sir Arnold Bax (OUP)]
Graham Parlett, The Sir Arnold Bax Website
[IDEALA] is truly a beautiful book and an extraordinarily important one
Richard R. Adams, The Sir Arnold Bax Website

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