Peter Davison writes:  
Much of my fascination for the music of George Lloyd stems from sympathy towards his struggle against modernist orthodoxy in the period after the Second World War, when his accessible and tuneful style fell badly out of fashion. It has long been a puzzle to me why, during the course of the twentieth century, so many composers became alienated from their audiences, and why melodious music was so thoughtlessly dismissed as hackneyed and out of date. In 2001, I even edited a collection of essays called Reviving the Muse, which explored this thorny subject in some detail. But could composers like George Lloyd have been badly misjudged? Could his middle-of-the-road aesthetics and traditional values become newly relevant in our own times?

But what causes this continuing tension in our culture between old and new? I found some startling clues when I recently stumbled across Gambara, a story by the French writer Balzac. Its narrative accurately foreshadows many of the revolutionary developments in modern music, probing the moral, social and aesthetic controversies which define the modern era. My article explores Balzac’s prophetic tale, revealing a composer whose talent is wasted as a consequence of his flaws of character and the general ignorance of the public. Gambara’s tragic failure raises questions about the true nature of genius, exposing also how romantic art continues to influence our contemporary culture.

Balzac’s Gambara:  
martyrdom, magic and the music of other planets

by Peter Davison         

Balzac in 1842