Hans Keller 1919 - 1985 : A musician in dialogue with his times book cover
1st Edition

Hans Keller 1919 - 1985
A musician in dialogue with his times

ISBN 9781138391048
Published December 16, 2018 by Routledge
436 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Hans Keller 1919–1985: A musician in dialogue with his times is the first full biography of Hans Keller and the first appearance in print of many of his letters. Eight substantial chapters, integrating original documents with their historical context, show the development of Keller’s ideas in response to the people and events that provoked them.

A musician of penetrating insight, Keller was also an exceptional writer and broadcaster, whose remarkable mind dominated British musical life for forty years after the Second World War. It was a vital time for music in Britain, fuelled by unprecedented public investment in the arts and education and the rapid development of recording and broadcasting. Keller was at the centre of all that was happening and his far-sighted analysis of the period is deeply resonant today.

Illustrated throughout by extracts from Keller’s writings, diaries and correspondence with musicians including Arnold Schoenberg, Benjamin Britten and Yehudi Menuhin, this book vividly conveys the depth of his thought and the excitement of the times. Published for the centenary of Keller’s birth, it is an illuminating celebration of his life and works for all those interested in the music and history of post-war Britain.

Table of Contents



Key to Source Abbreviations


1 Out of Austria

2 Critics and Musicologists

3 Music Survey

4 Dodecaphoneys

5 Functional Analysis

6 The BBC

7 The Time of My Life

8 Beyond Broadcasting


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Alison Garnham was the initial archivist of the Hans Keller Archive when it was first established at Cambridge University Library in 1996. She is the author of Hans Keller and the BBC (2003) and Hans Keller and Internment (2011).

Susi Woodhouse is the current archivist of the Hans Keller Archive at Cambridge. She also works with the online Concert Programmes Project and the London Symphony Orchestra photograph archive.


"This is a detailed and revealing biography, rich in context and background, of one of the great musical thinkers, writers and broadcasters of our time. It casts a penetrating light on the post-war cultural scene and the passionate internal battles of music broadcasting on the BBC. Keller's many enthusiasms, from Schoenberg and Mendelssohn to Gershwin and the Beatles, shine through his fiercely communicative prose. And all are illuminated by the moving personal integrity of a man who, facing extinction by the Nazis in 1938, swore that if he survived "I'll never again be in a bad mood, whatever the circumstances of my life or death". Alison Garnham and Susi Woodhouse have written a vital chapter in the musical history of our times."

Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of The Barbican Centre, London, UK.

"Ms Garnham and Ms Woodhouse have done a fully remarkable and admirable job. No one who did not know Hans could possibly finish reading this book without grasping what was so significant in his life and writings … This is a worthy book of a noble subject."

Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion Quarterly

"[this is] a documentary life rather than a full life-and-works study (a massive task), though the contexts, taken together, provide an invaluable account of publishing, broadcasting, and music-making in Britain in the first four decades after the war…The authors concede that there are ‘many different paths’ through the wealth of the Keller Nachlass, and indeed there are. But if this drawing together and enriching of so many strands that have hitherto been handled separately is ‘a start’, then it is a formidable one. Routledge have produced a challenging text with exemplary care."

Christopher Wintle, King's College London