The collection consists almost exclusively of letters received by Dent between 1914 and 1918, and probably sorted and weeded by him subsequently. Several letters have been endorsed by Dent with identifications and comments, and he has also supplied biographical notes on most of the correspondents, although these are not always reliable. The letters reflect Dent's heavy involvement in the teaching of music in Cambridge during the First World War, and his work on the translation of hitherto neglected Mozart operas and research into the music of Purcell and the composer's contemporaries. Another theme of the letters is his deep interest in the history and topography of Italy, which had developed during his extensive travels on the continent in the first decade of the century. Dent's wide circle of acquaintances in musical and literary circles is reflected in the correspondents who include establishment figures, such as Paul Dukas, E.M. Forster, Sir Hubert Parry and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as promising younger men, including Arthur Bliss, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, and the future Labour cabinet minister Hugh Dalton.
Edward Dent: Letters to him
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Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Edward Joseph Dent (1876-1957), musicologist, was born at Ribston Hall, Wetherby, Yorkshire, on 26 July 1876. He attended Eton and King's College, Cambridge, where he was a Fellow, 1902-1908 and from 1926 until his death. Dent was Professor of Music at the university, 1926-1941. He published pioneering studies in English on Alessandro Scarlatti, Ferruccio Busoni, the Mozart operas, and the development of English opera. He was also a founder of the International Society for Contemporary Music and, from 1938, its Honorary Life President. Dent died in London on 22 August 1957.
Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.
Presented by E.J. Dent, 1943.
Other Finding Aids
A catalogue of the collection is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.
Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.