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Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

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«  Writers and Music  »

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

15.12.2017


Writers and Music

Henry Reed gave any number of BBC radio talks during the 1940s and '50s, most of which are lost to time. He is not always given credit in the broadcasting schedules of the day, or if he is, his subject is not always named. Some of his book talks are quoted in publishers' advertisements for novels in contemporary journals and magazines, or he may be quoted by another critic in a print review.

Here we have a record of a talk Reed gave on April 7, 1949, "Writers and Music," from the Times broadcasting schedule:

London Times

This talk is mentioned by W.R. Anderson in his "Round About Radio" column in the Musical Times for May, 1949 (p. 161):

Henry Reed, talking about 'Writers and Music', was not concerned with this sometimes nagging pre-occupation. One passage of his might well stand as a whimsical P.S. to our Editor's February thought-stirring article 'On Influence and Borrowing', in which vast ground I beg him, and others, to continue digging. Mr. Reed, whose beginning I missed, was, I take it, imagining the lay author's diversion with various fantasies of himself as a musicologist giving out new truths, or controverting the pestilent heresies of pretentious rivals. Reminiscence-hunting can be as futile as fifth-chasing; but we might have a bit of good writing about the real values of 'influences'. There is plenty of room for a good book dealing, more fully than a general history can, with this admittedly fascinating aspect of history. It is not only in theme or harmony that we can detect similarities; there is style, and the sort of overblown oddness that, one might think, was afflicting a clever man like Holst, in the 'Planets': one of the leading cases, to my mind, in which to exhibit both the stirs and depressions of a fin de siècle upthrust of quite irresistible force. Holst, so original in some ways, was a curious case. We should be given more of his best work; but nobody is served by shutting eyes and ears to the astonishing amount of pastiche in those 'Planets'. He was a strange mixture—in that way the most interesting modern English composer.

So here we have not only have a record of the time, date, and duration of Reed's talk, but also an ostensible review; and yet I still have no idea what Reed was talking about. Which writers, and what music?

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What is Henry Reed's first name?

1513. Hodge, Alan. "Thunder on the Right." Tribune (London), 14 June 1946, 15.
Hodge finds 'dry charm as well as quiet wit' in "Judging Distances," but overall feels Reed is 'diffuse and not sufficiently accomplished.'



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


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