Hans Keller 1919-1985: A musician in dialogue with his times 1

“This is a detailed and revealing biography, rich in context and background, of one of the great musical thinkers, writers and broadcasters of our time. It casts a penetrating light on the post-war cultural scene and the passionate internal battles of music broadcasting on the BBC. Keller’s many enthusiasms, from Schoenberg and Mendelssohn to Gershwin and the Beatles, shine through his fiercely communicative prose. And all are illuminated by the moving personal integrity of a man who, facing extinction by the Nazis in 1938, swore that if he survived “I’ll never again be in a bad mood, whatever the circumstances of my life or death”. Alison Garnham and Susi Woodhouse have written a vital chapter in the musical history of our times.” (Nicholas Kenyon)

Published to mark the 2019 centenary of Keller’s birth, this is the first full biography of Hans Keller and the first appearance in print of many of his letters. Eight substantial chapters, integrating original documents with their historical context, show the development of Keller’s ideas in response to the people and events that provoked them. It was a vital time for music in Britain, fuelled by unprecedented public investment in the arts and education and the rapid development of recording and broadcasting. Keller was at the centre of all that was happening and his far-sighted analysis of the period is deeply resonant today.

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