Berners, Lord (Sir Gerald Hugh TyrwhittWilson, Baronet)

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Berners, Lord (Sir Gerald Hugh TyrwhittWilson, Baronet)

Berners, Lord (Sir Gerald Hugh TyrwhittWilson, Baronet), eccentric English composer, writer, and painter; b. Arley Park, Bridgnorth, Sept. 18, 1883; d. Farringdon House, Berkshire, April 19, 1950. He was mainly self-taught, although he received some music training in Dresden and England, and advice and encouragement from Stravinsky. He served as honorary attaché to the British diplomatic service in Constantinople (1909–11) and Rome (1911–19). Returning to England, he joined the literary smart set; he was on close terms with George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and Osbert Sitwell. He publ. half a dozen novels, including The Girls of Radcliff Hall (1937), The Romance of a Nose (1942), and Far from the Madding War, in which he portrays himself as Lord Fitzcricket. Berners affected bizarre social behavior; his humor and originality are reflected in his compositions, many of which reveal a subtle gift for parody. He wrote 2 autobiographical vols., First Childhood (London, 1934) and A Distant Prospect (London, 1945); he also had successful exhibitions of his oil paintings in London (1931, 1936).


DRAMATIC: Opera Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement (Paris, April 24, 1924) Ballet: The Triumph of Neptune (London, Dec. 3, 1926); Luna Park (London, March 1930); A Wedding Bouquet (London, April 27, 1937); Cupid and Psyche (London, April 27, 1939); Les Sirènes (London, Nov. 12, 1946). .orch.: 3 pieces: Chinoiserie, Valse sentimentale, and Kasatchok (1919); Fantaisie espagnole (1920); Fugue (1928). Piano: 3 Little Funeral Marches (1914); Le Poisson d’or (1914); Fragments psychologiques (1915); Valses bourgeoises for Piano Duet (1915). OTHER: Film scores, including Nicholas Nickleby (1947); songs, including Lieder Album, to texts by Heine (1913; Du bist wie eine Blume is set in accordance with the suggestion that the poem was not addressed to a lady but to a small white Pig).


J. Holbrooke, B. (London, 1925); H. Bridgeman and E. Drury, The British Eccentric (N.Y., 1975).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire