John Purser: Erik Chisholm, Scottish Modernist 1904-1965 – Chasing a Restless Muse
Erik Chisholm was the pre-eminent composer and musician in Scottish classical music in the first half of the twentieth century. As Sir Charles Mackerras put it, ‘Chisholm was a musician of rare capabilities. He was a pianist and organist, a conductor, a composer, a lecturer on music, an entrepreneur and administrator, and to all these he brought a unique blend of originality, flair and energy.’ As well as his life in Glasgow, Chisholm travelled to the Far East, notably Singapore, for the Entertainments and National Service Association during the Second World War, and subsequently became Professor of Music at the University of Cape Town, where he greatly developed the study and performance of music. He conducted numerous first British performances, including Berlioz’s The Trojans in 1935 and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in 1957. Accounts of the visits to Glasgow by such composers as Bartók, Casella, Hindemith et al are being presented here. Erik Chisholm. Scottish Modernist will be of general interest to scholars and students of twentieth-century music. In particular, those interested in the development of music, opera and ballet in Scotland, Scottish literature and cultural history will find this book of much value. It will also be of interest to those studying the music of Bartók, Sorabji, Hindemith, Walton, Bax, Casella, and Shostakovich whom Chisholm knew personally and brought to Scotland.
This is a superb publication. It is a massive investigation into the life and music of one of Scotland’s great, but massively underrated composers. It will provide the biographical and musical reference material for all interested parties for years to come. (John France, MusicWeb)
Published The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2009. Hardback, 283pp.