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Imogen Holst: A Life in Music


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Imogen Holst [1907-1984], the only child of Gustav Holst, was a composer and arranger of folksongs, writer on music, conductor, and administrator. She also acted as music assistant to Benjamin Britten, of whom she became a friend and close associate. She subsequently continued as Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival until 1977, when she retired to devote more time to preparing a thematic catalogue of her father's music.
This book offers the opportunity for a full assessment of Imogen Holst's life and achievements, both in her own words and through assessments by noted scholars. The backbone of this volume is the journal she kept at the start of her working association with Britten, from 1952 to 1954. Here she provides a unique insight into the professional and domestic life of a major composer, now published in full for the first time. Around these writings is woven a biographical narrative by Christopher Grogan and Rosamund Strode, the latter Holst's successor as Britten's music assistant and one of her closest colleagues and friends. The volume also includes an essay on her musical style and a complete catalogue of works, and an essay on her musical style by Christopher Tinker.

CHRISTOPHER GROGAN is Librarian at the Britten-Pears Library.


Substantial and lavishly illustrated. [...] The biography provides a wealth of new information, while deepening the reader's understanding of Imogen's complex personality. MUSIC AND LETTERS
This magnificent centenary volume...(miraculously edited to her own high standards)...documents a lifetime's pioneering achievement...A compelling portrait emerges of a single minded and uniquely talented woman. GRAMOPHONE [Geraint Lewis]
An encounter with a true original...Grogan has put together an excellent critical biography. TLS
This book - available at a remarkably reasonable price given the quality of its a wonderful centenary tribute to a fascinating and often underappreciated figure. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY NEWS
Excellently written...a successful, lively portrait of an important personality in C20th British musical life. DIE MUSIKFORSCHUNG


First Published: 16 Aug 2007
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843832966
2 colour, 54 black and white illustrations
Pages: 514
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Foreword
  • 2  `She do favour `er Pa': Infancy and early schooldays, 1907-1920
  • 3  `Corn-coloured pigtails and very blue eyes': St Paul's Girls' School, 1921- 1926
  • 4  `To be best when all are good': The Royal College of Music, 1926-1930
  • 5  `Wandering about Europe', 1930-1931
  • 6  `Life is not going to be too easy for you': London and elsewhere, 1931-1939
  • 7  `A present from the Government': Travelling with CEMA, 1940-1942
  • 8  `A wonderful opportunity': Dartington, 1942-1950
  • 9  `She is quite brilliant': India to Aldeburgh, 1950-1952
  • 10  `The excitement of working with Ben': an introduction to the Aldeburgh Diary
  • 11  Aldeburgh Diary, September 1952 - March 1954
  • 12  `The thing that one wants to do most in the whole world': 1955-1964
  • 13  `The immense joy of learning about Holst via Britten': 1964-1976
  • 14  `Old age - Protest against disintegration - Gradual calming down - Acceptance': 1977-1984
  • 15  `A real composer': an Introduction to Imogen Holst's Musical Style
  • 16  Catalogue of works
  • 17  Index

Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913-1976

Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913-1976

Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913-1976

Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913-1976

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten