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Lord Berners was one of the most idiosyncratic and fascinating personalities in British music. He became a pioneer in the avant-garde when he wrote his first music whilst living in Rome as a diplomat during World War I; Balanchine choreographed his first two ballets and Ashton the next three; in 1931 he had the first exhibition of his paintings; in 1934 he published the first volume of his autobiography, First Childhood, and two years later his first novel, The Camel – and three more novels came out in 1941. On top of all this during the 1930s, known as ‘the versatile peer’, he increasingly gained a reputation as an eccentric, which he realised was good for publicity. His paintings all sold and some of his novels were translated into French and Swedish: all are now back in print. But it was his music that meant the most to him and, largely through the endeavours of Philip Lane, all of it is available on CD.
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