Peter Warlock

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Peter Warlock (1894-1930) - christened Philip Arnold Heseltine - was an English composer, mainly of vocal and choral music. Under the name Heseltine he edited and wrote on musical subjects; especially on the lute songs and ayres of Elizabethan and Jacobean England and concerning his older contemporary and compatriot, Frederick Delius.

As Warlock, he is known for his songs and other miniatures, many flavoured by the 16th and 17th centuries; the focus of his work as Philip Heseltine. Perhaps his best known instrumental work is the “Capriol Suite” taken from 16th century French dance tunes. Two carols are popular – “Balulalow” and “Bethlehem Down”. He also wrote for the piano including 4-hand arrangements of Delius works.

Whilst much of his music harks back to an earlier era, he was capable of writing music compatible with the songs and ballads of his time. The song, “Captain Stratton’s Fancy” (“the old bold mate of Henry Morgan”.) ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmCWIHseDGw) is a firm favourite of baritones everywhere. Also in a style more atune to the musical language of the 1920s is “The Curlew”, settings for cor anglais, flute and string quartet of four poems of W. B. Yeats which perfectly reflect the utter misery of the words. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weHYbcbd0hI). If nothing else this music illustrates the worth of the cor anglais as a “descriptive instrument”.

Warlock was in a “delicate” mental state for much of his life. It is probable but not certain, that he took his own life, by gassing, at the age of 36.

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