LORD (GERALD HUGH TYRWHITT-WILSON) BERNERS (1883 - 1950)
Lord Berners occupies a very particular position as a notable English eccentric and a talented dilettante in many arts. His literary work includes a series of delightfully libellous novels.
Berners collaborated with Sacheverell Sitwell in a ballet for Diaghilev, The Triumph of Neptune, wrote the music for Luna Park (a ballet commissioned for C.B. Cochran’s London revue of 1930), and also wrote a choral ballet, A Wedding Bouquet, with words by Gertrude Stein. He wrote the ballet Les Sirènes for Covent Garden in 1946, preceded in 1939 by Cupid and Psyche for Sadler’s Wells. His opera Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement is a witty treatment of a comedy by Prosper Mérimée, dealing, in rapid French, with the predicament of a viceroy of Peru who provides his mistress with a fine new carriage.
Songs and Piano Music
Lord Berners shows the same wit in his songs, suggesting, for example, that Heine’s Du bist wie eine Blume (‘You are like a flower’) was originally addressed to a white pig. An English song suggests that red noses are preferable, in their durability, to red roses, and there are settings of poems in French. His piano music shows similar wit and deftness in handling musical techniques, with playful or with more serious intention.