The composer Philip Heseltine (1894-1930), better known by his pseudonym 'Peter Warlock', is one of the most fascinating characters in twentieth-century English music. Educated at Eton and Oxford, yet musically largely self-taught, he is considered by many to be one of the great English song-writers. But besides being a composer, he was also an important pioneer editor of early music as well as the author of a number of books and numerous articles for newspapers and journals. His eccentric life-style, his outspoken comments and writings about music, as well as the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, have all ensured that the 'Warlock legend' has not lost its fascination over the years. During his short life he was a prolific and highly articulate letter writer and some thousand of his letters have survived. These the Warlock scholar and authority Barry Smith has edited with copious annotations and footnotes as well as generous background material.
[T]he value of this complete edition - as opposed to a selection - is reinforced by its gamut...it will be grist to the mill of music's social history. Barry Smith and Boydell have placed many scholars in their debt for bringing this project to achievement.MUSICAL TIMES [David Wright]
Barry Smith is an admirable editor. The letters come from many sources and it is a major achievement to have collected so many...in four handsome volumes. GRAMOPHONE [John Steane]
His letters are never less than articulate and inventive in prose, while at best, they rise to an exuberance of argument and evocation, shot through with penetrating insights into music and life, that border on virtuosity...[One] opens one of these volumes at random, and is hooked again... BBC MUSIC [Bayan Northcott]
In what must be one of the boldest initiatives of its kind in recent times, the Boydell Press has published the entire opus - 986 letters and a fascinating envoi of posthumous tributes - in four handsomely produced volumes, superbly edited by his biographer, Barry Smith. THE OLDIE [Richard Osborne]
[A] riveting read. 5 stars. CLASSIC FM MAGAZINE
[Smith's] editionof the Collected Letters, beautifully and impeccably presented by the Boydell Press, is a model of its kind, and in effect can be read as the closest to an autobiography of Peter Warlock we are ever likely to possess. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY NEWSLETTER [John Talbot]
The editing is exemplary, there are plenty of photographs, extensive footnotes and indexes; the volumes are a joy to behold and handle. TABLET [John Amis]