“This book is a most unusual achievement, because it brings alive a successful and loving marriage, undertaken at considerable odds ... and understands the peculiarities of the human heart ... A wonderful evocation of the 1940s. The story should be filmed. ”

Carmen Callil, The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

16 October 2011

 

“I have been reading with enormous pleasure a superb biography of a fine 20th-century British composer and his splendid life-enhancer of a wife.”

Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph

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Lennox & Freda is an improbable love story set in the musical avant-garde of the 1930s and ’40s. Born into a well-connected family, the composer Lennox Berkeley was at Oxford in the Brideshead years, then settled in Paris and became a Catholic. Through a close friendship with Ravel he was introduced to Nadia Boulanger (with whom he studied for six years) and to the gay society of Le Boeuf sur le Toit. Back in England he fell in love with Benjamin Britten and moved in with him in Suffolk until he was displaced by Peter Pears. Throughout the war Lennox lived in London with a young RAF officer, and volunteered as an air raid warden during the Blitz. In the BBC Music Department he met Freda Bernstein, twenty years his junior, and during the winter of 1946, to the surprise of his friends, he married her. Within ten years he had become the father of three sons, a devoted husband, a happier man and one of the foremost composers of his time. Lennox & Freda explores the contrasting backgrounds of the protagonists to explain how their paths crossed, why marriage was the making of them, and the accommodations it involved. Drawing on his own original research, Tony Scotland presents new perspectives on the Oxford of Auden and Waugh; the Paris of Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Poulenc; the Somerset Maugham set on the French Riviera; Dylan Thomas, William Glock and Humphrey Searle during the Battle of Britain; Eddy Sackville-West, Tippett, Bliss and Boult at the BBC; and Britten and Pears at Aldeburgh. Lennox & Freda is more than a portrait of an unconventional marriage, it is also a record of a generation – and a vanished way of life.

 

Tony Scotland was for many years a familiar voice on BBC Radio Three. His book The Empty Throne – The Quest for an Imperial Heir in the People’s Republic of China (Viking, 1993) was described by J. G. Ballard as ‘brilliant and disturbing ... racy and entertaining’, and by James Lees-Milne as ‘a minor classic’. More...

 

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Lennox & Freda, published in November 2010, is priced £28;
608 pp including index, with 16 pp illustrations, hardback, 234 x 156mm.
ISBN 978-0-85955-319-3.

Book cover shadow Lennox & Freda by Tony Scotland - book cover