Author Topic: EJ Moeran  (Read 81479 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #620 on: July 22, 2021, 11:47:32 AM »
"Moeran was almost certainly bi-sexual."

Is this the reviewer restating your well-evidenced conclusion, - or a tangent of his own?

I remember no treatment at all of this topic (possibly a minor one) in the thesis study.
There's some discussion of that possibility here (see the comments after the article). I'd never come across the suggestion before either. Of course I have no idea how reliable this article is:
https://strangeflowers.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/to-the-very-dregs/
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline HotFXMan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #621 on: July 22, 2021, 12:11:56 PM »
Regarding Moeran's sexuality, there is strong circumstantial evidence - which has all emerged since I submitted my doctoral thesis - for a primarily homosexual identity. However, finding primary evidence, let alone proof, dating from a time when such activity was illegal is only rarely possible, and one is left deducing probable scenarios from inconclusive evidence. In my book, I present the evidence - such as it is - and my reasons for my conclusion. Others whom I have consulted have concurred. However, some have not - one commentator claiming that Moeran could not have been gay because if he had been, it would have been impossible for him to have composed the violin concerto. I am at a loss to comprehend such reasoning. As with all the more controversial content of my book, I invite Forum members to read it carefully and offer their own reasoned opinions.

Offline HotFXMan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #622 on: July 22, 2021, 12:56:04 PM »
I'm curious, as is your reviewer, about your view on the reconstructed Moeran's 2nd Symphony. I rather enjoyed but I know that others here didn't. I won't be offended if you ignore the question.
I ignored it in the book because my book was about Moeran, and Yates’ “reconstruction” is not Moeran. That is all I have to say about it.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #623 on: July 22, 2021, 09:13:55 PM »
I ignored it in the book because my book was about Moeran, and Yates’ “reconstruction” is not Moeran. That is all I have to say about it.
Fair enough - but thanks for the response.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #624 on: July 22, 2021, 10:27:28 PM »
With the major caveat that I am still in the foothills of the book (but enjoying it very much!) so the "significance" of Moeran's sexuality might yet become clearer..... 

But I find it interesting that we are still in a time when the 'revelation' that someone might have been a homosexual is in any way controversial except simply because it is contrary to previously received wisdom.  Unless that orientation or its impact on Moeran in an era when it was still illegal had a specific manifestation in the music (or his daily life) I am not sure I am bothered except as filling out biographical detail.  There was already a sense that the relationship with Coetmore was an idealised rather than 'practical' love/relationship so even that is not radically altered by this.  With all the new information in the book I find it slightly wearying that the BMS reviewer feels that Moeran's sexuality is the stuff of prime importance.

Offline HotFXMan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #625 on: July 22, 2021, 11:31:56 PM »
With the major caveat that I am still in the foothills of the book (but enjoying it very much!) so the "significance" of Moeran's sexuality might yet become clearer..... 

But I find it interesting that we are still in a time when the 'revelation' that someone might have been a homosexual is in any way controversial except simply because it is contrary to previously received wisdom.  Unless that orientation or its impact on Moeran in an era when it was still illegal had a specific manifestation in the music (or his daily life) I am not sure I am bothered except as filling out biographical detail.  There was already a sense that the relationship with Coetmore was an idealised rather than 'practical' love/relationship so even that is not radically altered by this.  With all the new information in the book I find it slightly wearying that the BMS reviewer feels that Moeran's sexuality is the stuff of prime importance.

The main reason that I devoted space in the book to Moeran's sexuality was because others have speculated about it and tied it to an overall assessment of Moeran as both man and composer. As you have discerned, my principal purpose for my book was to present the real evidence pertaining to Moeran, give my own reasoned conclusions, and leave space for other reasoning or, indeed, more evidence to emerge. Thus, Moeran's sexuality acquires an importance in that it was a component of his personality, and, as I suggest at the beginning of the book, Moeran's personality and his music are perhaps more intertwined than has been the case with most composers. But you are, of course, correct; Moeran's sexuality cannot objectively be apparent in his music, as cannot the colour of his hair, his weight, which football team he supported, his politics etc. etc. etc.. But since others have tried to make this so, it was necessary to include the evidence and my interpretation of it - most especially so in the light of comments such as the ludicrous one I quoted above relating to the violin concerto. Moreover, the book is a biography, and as such it endeavours to present Moeran as a person, and his sexuality is as relevant to that as is where he lived, how was he educated, etc. etc.

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #626 on: July 23, 2021, 01:48:43 AM »
I've just reached the section dealing with Moeran's War and injury.  As I read it, it was a neck injury not the head injury the reviewer mentions and certainly not an injury as severe (ie requiring a plate in the skull) that was previously received wisdom.  Maxwell cites at length from various medical boards Moeran attended when he was being assessed for a return to active duty.  Perhaps the reviewer slightly skimmed things....?
Why reviewers (and interviewers) surely never do such things?!  ;)

PD

Offline vandermolen

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #627 on: July 23, 2021, 02:04:54 AM »
With the major caveat that I am still in the foothills of the book (but enjoying it very much!) so the "significance" of Moeran's sexuality might yet become clearer..... 

But I find it interesting that we are still in a time when the 'revelation' that someone might have been a homosexual is in any way controversial except simply because it is contrary to previously received wisdom.  Unless that orientation or its impact on Moeran in an era when it was still illegal had a specific manifestation in the music (or his daily life) I am not sure I am bothered except as filling out biographical detail.  There was already a sense that the relationship with Coetmore was an idealised rather than 'practical' love/relationship so even that is not radically altered by this.  With all the new information in the book I find it slightly wearying that the BMS reviewer feels that Moeran's sexuality is the stuff of prime importance.
I don't really agree - an understanding of someone's sexuality may be of significance in understanding them as a person or, in the case of a composer, of giving us some new insight into their music (Tchaikovsky comes to mind, although others may disagree). I think that it depends on context and there surely must be a difference in being homosexual in a liberal society, where people are valued for who they are regardless of their sexuality and being homosexual at a time when it it was illegal or when people were persecuted for it (sadly, there are countries where this is still the case). I do agree that the Violin Concerto point is absurd, although I would like to know which football team Moeran supported!

Interesting discussion.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 02:13:46 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Irons

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #628 on: July 23, 2021, 06:34:40 AM »
I don't really agree - an understanding of someone's sexuality may be of significance in understanding them as a person or, in the case of a composer, of giving us some new insight into their music (Tchaikovsky comes to mind, although others may disagree). I think that it depends on context and there surely must be a difference in being homosexual in a liberal society, where people are valued for who they are regardless of their sexuality and being homosexual at a time when it it was illegal or when people were persecuted for it (sadly, there are countries where this is still the case). I do agree that the Violin Concerto point is absurd, although I would like to know which football team Moeran supported!

Interesting discussion.

I agree, Jeffrey. That Moeran may be bisexual or homosexual had not crossed my mind but maybe it should as a good proportion of the greatest artists were. Closer to home then Tchaikovsky is Britten of course. Does it have any bearing on their life's work? Yes. Also in Moeran's case it sheds light on his relationship with Peers Coetmore and maybe his excessive alcohol intake.

Probably I can comment with more authority on which football team Moeran may of supported. Sorry Jeffrey, not Chelskie, nor the mighty Hammers. My guess is Celtic.   
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #629 on: July 23, 2021, 07:36:09 AM »
I agree, Jeffrey. That Moeran may be bisexual or homosexual had not crossed my mind but maybe it should as a good proportion of the greatest artists were. Closer to home then Tchaikovsky is Britten of course. Does it have any bearing on their life's work? Yes. Also in Moeran's case it sheds light on his relationship with Peers Coetmore and maybe his excessive alcohol intake.

Probably I can comment with more authority on which football team Moeran may of supported. Sorry Jeffrey, not Chelskie, nor the mighty Hammers. My guess is Celtic.   
Thanks Lol. My own view is that we should not attach too much importance to Moeran's possible sexuality, although it is another factor which may help us to understand him. Like you, I hadn't considered it before.

Re: Your second point. Moeran must have mixed with all those arty types in central London, such as Warlock, Constant Lambert etc and apparently he spoke in a posh accent (something else I discovered recently - well, he did go to Uppingham), therefore he must have been a Chelsea supporter!  ;D
« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 07:41:42 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline J

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #630 on: July 23, 2021, 09:09:58 AM »
Thanks Lol. My own view is that we should not attach too much importance to Moeran's possible sexuality, although it is another factor which may help us to understand him. Like you, I hadn't considered it before.

Re: Your second point. Moeran must have mixed with all those arty types in central London, such as Warlock, Constant Lambert etc and apparently he spoke in a posh accent (something else I discovered recently - well, he did go to Uppingham), therefore he must have been a Chelsea supporter!  ;D

I think for sure there are recordings of Moeran speaking.  Anyone know where these might be accessible?

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #631 on: July 29, 2021, 02:39:43 AM »
A brief update on the new Moeran biography.  I'm about 130 pages in - Philip Heseltine/Peter Warlock has just died - and I have to say I am finding it a compelling read.  Moeran was clearly a very complex personality.  I have not read Dr Maxwell's thesis so cannot comment on how he has developed/expanded/revised opinions from there.  Two things I find intriguing; so much is still missing!  Moeran did not keep diaries, he did not keep musical sketches/notebooks.  Much of the time his movements/motivations are gleaned through the records of others or organisations he was affiliated with.  Music-wise the presumption is that he wrote - or at least conceived of - a lot more music than we still have.  Which for the admirer of his work is both tantalising and frustrating.  Also, it seems clear that he liked to be liked.  In the presence of a powerful personality like Heseltine the conclusion seems inescapable that he "went along" with his views.  To the extent where - it is implied - he even downplayed his role in WW1 - including his wounding simply because Heseltine was anti-War and Moeran's role as a genuinely brave officer in the trenches would not chime with that view.

Interestingly, at the point Moeran extricated himself from the infamous cottage in Eynesford (actually because of unpaid rent!) he came out of a near 3-year composing hiatus with the relatively austere 2 violin sonata and string trio.  Maxwell quotes Moeran as writing to Heseltine that he was doing this to purge himself of the influence of Delius.  However, Maxwell also quotes Moeran as saying how easy it had become to be "lazy" at Eynesford.  I wonder if the purge was more of Heseltine than Delius and that the enforced intellectual rigour of writing for such limited musical resources was a kind of musical work-out for Moeran to get back into composing shape away from the excesses of Kent.  Easier to blame Delius than tell Heseltine that he was the cause of the compositional lacuna.

Anyway, lots to think about and absorb and I'm looking forward to reading more.......

Offline vandermolen

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #632 on: July 29, 2021, 03:33:31 AM »
A brief update on the new Moeran biography.  I'm about 130 pages in - Philip Heseltine/Peter Warlock has just died - and I have to say I am finding it a compelling read.  Moeran was clearly a very complex personality.  I have not read Dr Maxwell's thesis so cannot comment on how he has developed/expanded/revised opinions from there.  Two things I find intriguing; so much is still missing!  Moeran did not keep diaries, he did not keep musical sketches/notebooks.  Much of the time his movements/motivations are gleaned through the records of others or organisations he was affiliated with.  Music-wise the presumption is that he wrote - or at least conceived of - a lot more music than we still have.  Which for the admirer of his work is both tantalising and frustrating.  Also, it seems clear that he liked to be liked.  In the presence of a powerful personality like Heseltine the conclusion seems inescapable that he "went along" with his views.  To the extent where - it is implied - he even downplayed his role in WW1 - including his wounding simply because Heseltine was anti-War and Moeran's role as a genuinely brave officer in the trenches would not chime with that view.

Interestingly, at the point Moeran extricated himself from the infamous cottage in Eynesford (actually because of unpaid rent!) he came out of a near 3-year composing hiatus with the relatively austere 2 violin sonata and string trio.  Maxwell quotes Moeran as writing to Heseltine that he was doing this to purge himself of the influence of Delius.  However, Maxwell also quotes Moeran as saying how easy it had become to be "lazy" at Eynesford.  I wonder if the purge was more of Heseltine than Delius and that the enforced intellectual rigour of writing for such limited musical resources was a kind of musical work-out for Moeran to get back into composing shape away from the excesses of Kent.  Easier to blame Delius than tell Heseltine that he was the cause of the compositional lacuna.

Anyway, lots to think about and absorb and I'm looking forward to reading more.......
Most interesting - thanks RS
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline J

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #633 on: July 29, 2021, 06:13:30 AM »
Moeran did not keep diaries, he did not keep musical sketches/notebooks.

Not to be nitpicky, but Dr Maxwell refers to the unearthing of Moeran's "regimental war diaries" and that they "necessitated a re-consideration of conclusions presented previously" (in the doctoral thesis).

I assume also the recovered (incomplete) material for Moeran's planned 2nd Symphony existed as "musical sketches" in some sort of notebook.  How does any composer avoid having that (at least in Moeran's time)?

Offline HotFXMan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #634 on: July 29, 2021, 06:41:58 AM »
...Moeran did not keep diaries, he did not keep musical sketches/notebooks...

Just a clarification here, no diaries and very few notes and sketches have been found. It is, of course, entirely possible that Moeran did write diaries (which were lost or destroyed), and it is known that he did make copious musical notes. However, he was unfortunately very dilligent in throwing them in the waste-paper basket.

Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying the book.

Offline J

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #635 on: July 29, 2021, 07:23:02 AM »
Just a clarification here, no diaries and very few notes and sketches have been found. It is, of course, entirely possible that Moeran did write diaries (which were lost or destroyed), and it is known that he did make copious musical notes. However, he was unfortunately very dilligent in throwing them in the waste-paper basket.

Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying the book.

It was you who previously referred to the unearthed "war diaries" and the re-consideration they necessitated of previously presented conclusions.

Was that inaccurate (a myth, as you understand the term)?  You didn't peruse any diaries?

 
« Last Edit: July 29, 2021, 07:32:09 AM by J »

Offline J

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #636 on: July 29, 2021, 07:26:12 AM »
My January 2014 thesis represented the most considered understanding of Moeran's life and work at that time. Seven years later, knowledge has moved on as more primary evidence - Moeran's regimental war diaries, for example - has been unearthed, and which has necessitated a re-consideration of conclusions presented previously.

?

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #637 on: July 29, 2021, 07:50:17 AM »
Not to be nitpicky, but Dr Maxwell refers to the unearthing of Moeran's "regimental war diaries" and that they "necessitated a re-consideration of conclusions presented previously" (in the doctoral thesis).

I assume also the recovered (incomplete) material for Moeran's planned 2nd Symphony existed as "musical sketches" in some sort of notebook.  How does any composer avoid having that (at least in Moeran's time)?

regimental war diaries are official records kept by the regiment - they are not an individual's record of their war - that is what I was refering to when I meant that Moeran's activities had to be traced in the accounts of others or other organisations.....

Offline HotFXMan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #638 on: July 29, 2021, 08:05:27 AM »
regimental war diaries are official records kept by the regiment - they are not an individual's record of their war - that is what I was refering to when I meant that Moeran's activities had to be traced in the accounts of others or other organisations.....

Thanks for helping me out here, Roasted. I was simply ignoring the interminably insufferable "J", and will continue to do so.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: EJ Moeran
« Reply #639 on: July 29, 2021, 08:32:36 AM »
Not to be nitpicky, but Dr Maxwell refers to the unearthing of Moeran's "regimental war diaries" and that they "necessitated a re-consideration of conclusions presented previously" (in the doctoral thesis).

I assume also the recovered (incomplete) material for Moeran's planned 2nd Symphony existed as "musical sketches" in some sort of notebook.  How does any composer avoid having that (at least in Moeran's time)?

The assumption is not that Moeran made no notes/sketches etc but that he destroyed them.  His death prevented him from doing that with the 2nd symphony material.  Of course, the problem with not having more examples of his sketches is that it is hard to know whether the fragmentary nature of the 2nd symphony was typical of his way of working or a reflection on his state of being late in his life.  The book makes an interesting case for Moeran extensively working out material in his head and latterly refining/checking it at the piano.   The tantalising promises made to Harty of a symphony 10 years before the actual symphony appeared makes you wonder if he really had worked something out in some complete way - as he suggested - or whether he was again telling people what he thought they wanted to hear......