Welcome to Men and Music!

Portrait of Erik Chisholm

The Lectures

In 1964 Chisholm gave a series of lectures on Men and Music, illustrated with music and slides, at the University of Cape Town Summer School. In his own words Men and Music wasn’t "going to be a serious business. It will consist mainly of light hearted reminiscences about some important figures in 20th Century music, from which it will be possible to gain insight into their characters and personalities."

Many distinguished composers came to Glasgow in the 1930’s to give concerts of their works for the Active Society for the Propagation of Contemporary Music (a bit of a mouthful, known colloquially as The Active Society) which Erik founded in the late 1920's.

The 20 composers he talks about are William Walton, Cyril Scott, Percy Grainger, Eugene Goosens, Bela Bartok, Donald Tovey, Florent Schmitt, John Ireland, Yvonne Arnaud, Frederick Lamond, Adolph Busch, Alfredo Casella, Arnold Bax, Paul Hindemith, Dmitri Shostakovich (Chisholm cheated here - Shostakovich didn’t actually appear but they were friends and the Active Society "played quite a lot of his music"), Kaikoshru Sorabji, Bernard van Dieren and Medtner.

It is clear Chisholm planned to publish the lectures but he ran out of time, out of life - as he died just over a year after presenting them.

They are fun to read; several serious musicians have found them hard to put down once started, and have read them into the small hours of the night.

What follows is a modern presentation of those lectures given by Dr. Chisholm, I have taken a few, very minor, liberties with the text but essentially they are just as he presented them over 50 years ago. Some of his opinions now-a-days may be considered to be slightly politically incorrect, but I have left them in as he intended. I have added some additional images that are relevant to the lectures and these can be found in the Pictures Section and in the Press Cuttings Section some of the newspaper reviews of the concerts.

Next year (2015) marks the 50th anniversary of his death and the publication of these lectures forms part of that occasion. The Trust is planning more events, details of which can be found in the News Section on the main website. Finally, if you were present at those lectures in Cape Town the Trust would like to here from you, via the Contact Page.

The Music

The music Erik used in his lectures came from his own collection of recorded music. Some of his own taped recordings were used. Where possible I have included the original music used, some of it is drawn from "You Tube" and others from his private collection.

The music forms an integral part of the lectures so please make the time to listen to the pieces he selected, as they make a break from the narrative.

I have put together and edited Erik's original lectures, whilst nursing a broken foot, 50 years after he first presented them to his audience at the University of Cape Town Summer School. The lectures still have the power to inspire and I am grateful to him for introducing me to Bax's "Tintagel" and Ireland's "First Violin Sonata" and for making a painful period in my life more bearable.

The Pictures

The slides Erik used in his lectures are photographs of the original pictures. The film stock used produced positives that were suitable for projection. 35mm glass slide mounts were used to protect the film. The Trust provided me with a CD of scans of the slides which had been done some 10 years previously and regrettably the quality was so poor as to make them un-suitable for use.

I went back to the original slides and discovered that they had been scanned through the glass which accounted for some of the indifferent quality. Over the years the glass had developed a semi-opaque film on the inside surface of the glass. Carefully I opened one up and cleaned the glass on both inside surfaces.

The PDF Version

A PowerPoint presentation is also available for use in schools for educational use. To obtain a copy please Contact the Trust.