Auden Recital at The Art House


The composer PETER DICKINSON talks about meeting the great poet W.H. AUDEN and setting his

poetry to music.


The award-winning duo from the Royal Academy of Music will perform Dickinson's eight Auden songs.





When Peter Dickinson was an undergraduate at Queens’ College, Cambridge, he discovered the poetry of W. H. Auden and soon wrote to the great poet to ask his permission to set four of his poems to music. Auden sent an approving letter back and said he’d like to hear the songs if an opportunity arose – in those far-off days you couldn’t just send a CD.


Then Dickinson noticed that Auden was coming to Cambridge to give a poetry reading and as a result a private performance of the songs was arranged at Queens’ College. After the performance Auden inscribed Dickinson’s volume of his poems:

‘To Peter Dickinson with many thanks for his

nice settings’.


The career of the songs continued when Meriel (mezzo-soprano) and Peter Dickinson broadcast them in a BBC Radio 3 tribute to Auden shortly after he died in 1973; by then Peter Dickinson had set four more poems. The Dickinsons recorded the Four Songs in 1986 and the other four were recorded by Martyn Hill and the composer. Now the songs are quite often sung by young performers and all will be heard with tenor and piano at this event.


Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 13.56.34 Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 13.56.42 IMG_0636

Tea and cake after the recital.