Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903–1989) became acquainted with Honegger during his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris between 1927 and 1932. He also studied with Ravel, who was a key influence on his music; so too was Chopin, alluded to in his Three Pieces Op 2 (for piano), especially the central ‘Berceuse’, the Four Concert Studies Op 14 No 1, and more overtly in the Three Mazurkas Op 32 No 1. In January 1940, Berkeley wrote to his then friend Benjamin Britten: ‘Since I finished the Serenade [for strings] I’ve been working on some Piano Studies. They’re real virtuoso music—I can’t play a bar of them. I’ve also written a Mazurka, which I think you’d like.’ It was not until 1949 that he added two more, when along with eleven other composers he was invited by UNESCO to contribute to a concert in Paris on 3 October 1949 to celebrate the Chopin centenary. Though only the third Mazurka was played on that occasion, it opened proceedings.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2010