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A Life of Divine Emollient Reviews

A Life of Divine Emollient by Ian Bradley (Emeritus Professor of Cultural and Spiritual History, University of St Andrews)

Arthur Sullivan: A Life of Divine Emollient

Ian Bradley (Emeritus Professor of Cultural and Spiritual History, University of St Andrews)

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1 review

Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 8 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9780198863267

This biography reveals how important spiritual factors and influences were to Arthur Sullivan's life and work and explores his rich corpus of sacred pieces, which includes the best-selling Victorian parlour ballad 'The Lost Chord' and the tune of 'Onward, Christian Soldiers'.

3 stars out of 5
24 Apr 2021

"The musical half of Gilbert and Sullivan has at last received his dues"

My feeling is that, to use a very un-Victorian phrase, Sullivan struck a healthy work-life balance. Yes, he was sometimes upset when his sacred music wasn’t taken seriously. Bradley reminds us of his rueful reaction when he suggested to the pioneering female composer Ethel Smyth that his worthy but dull oratorio The Golden Legend was “the best thing I’ve done” — only for her to retort, truthfully, that The Mikado was his masterpiece.

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