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Peter Warlock

Peter Warlock

British composer and music critic

Philip Arnold Heseltine (30 October 1894 – 17 December 1930), known by the pseudonym Peter Warlock, was a British composer and music critic. The Warlock name, which reflects Heseltine's interest in occult practices, was used for all his published musical works. He is best known as a composer of songs and other vocal music; he also achieved notoriety in his lifetime through his unconventional and often scandalous lifestyle.

As a schoolboy at Eton College, Heseltine met the British composer Frederick Delius, with whom he formed a close friendship. After a failed student career in Oxford and London, Heseltine turned to musical journalism, while developing interests in folk-song and Elizabethan music. His first serious compositions date from around 1915. Following a period of inactivity, a positive and lasting influence on his work arose from his meeting in 1916 with the Dutch composer Bernard van Dieren; he also gained creative impetus from a year spent in Ireland, studying Celtic culture and language. On his return to England in 1918, Heseltine began composing songs in a distinctive, original style, while building a reputation as a combative and controversial music critic. During 1920–21 he edited the music magazine The Sackbut. His most prolific period as a composer came in the 1920s, when he was based first in Wales and later at Eynsford in Kent.

Through his critical writings, published under his own name, Heseltine made a pioneering contribution to the scholarship of early music. In addition, he produced a full-length biography of Frederick Delius and wrote, edited, or otherwise assisted the production of several other books and pamphlets. Towards the end of his life, Heseltine became depressed by a loss of his creative inspiration. He died in his London flat of coal gas poisoning in 1930, probably by his own hand.

Timeline

October 30, 1894
Peter Warlock was born in London.

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