Peter Warlock

Lullaby for voice & piano

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    "The plot worked perfectly," Cecil Gray recalled. "He submitted a batch of songs to Winthrop Rogers under the pseudonym of Peter Warlock, which were duly accepted and published. The secret was not long kept, however. A common acquaintance of Philip and Winthrop Rogers, on seing the manuscripts, was able to identify at once the highly personal caligraphy, and it soon became known that the greatly admired Peter Warlock was none other than the despised and cordially disliked Philip Heseltine. But it was too late; the enthusiastic reception accorded to the songs by the unsuspecting leaders of musical opinion and the Press generally was such that none of those responsible for it could creditably change their attitude on learning the real authorship--they had perforce to accept the position and the deception with as good grace as they could summon up."

    Among the songs foisted on Winthrop Rogers was Lullaby, composed in 1918 to words by Shakespeare's contemporary, Thomas Dekker -- "Golden slumbers kiss your eyes... Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry..." -- also set by Charles Villiers Stanford and Alfredo Casella. As with the other songs first presented to Rogers, it partakes of an ineffable charm, touched again in Rest, sweet nymphs (1922); sleep and its mysteries held a peculiar fascination for Warlock, as other numbers, such as Sleep (1922) and The Night (1927), attest. All are among his very best. Warlock's was a combative personality combined with the flippant energy of an inveterate practical joker. He publicly assaulted the prominent critic Edwin Evans over the disputed merits of Bernard van Dieren's music, which Warlock championed (ironically, van Dieren and Evans became friends after Warlock's death), while his obsessive persecution of Ernest Newman, the dean of English music critics, brought Warlock's editorship of the brilliant, jeering Sackbut monthly to a sudden end. "No man born plain Master Roberts would christen himself 'earnest new man' unless he thought he was one." Payback came a decade later in the midst a crippling economic crisis that brought Warlock's riotous, legendary Eynsford years to an end. While Rogers took Warlock's 1918 arrangements of Lullaby for female voices in 1928, the musical establishment largely turned its back on Warlock. To Bruce Blunt, on September 12, 1928, he wrote, "As for me, I am at rock bottom -- unable to either write anything or to sell the trash and drivel I have managed to knock up during the past few months. There is a frightful slump in the music-publishing business...."

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2014 Hyperion CDH 55442
    2001 London/Decca / Decca 289468503
    1994 Hyperion CDA66736
    1992 Chandos 8643
    Koch 7118