1946 London

Jul 7, 1946 – Jul 14, 1946

Festival info

Start: Jul 7, 1946

End: Jul 14, 1946

Locations: London

Hosting member(s)


(supported by the News Chronicle and the BBC)

From contemporaneous reviews

“The Festival, held in London on July 7-14, was the twentieth of the I.S.C.M. series. In many respects it was an indisputable success. To welcome so many musicians from Europe, to see faces which one has sadly missed for seven years or more-this aspect contributed an unusual zest, warmth and enthusiasm to the proceedings. As in previous International Contemporary Music Festivals, the social and convivial sides tended to overshadow the musical to such an extent that a question on many participants’ lips was: ‘Does one really have to have any music at these Festivals ?’ To which the answer is obviously, ‘Yes.’ You cannot have your bread and circuses without a raison d’etre. It is even arguable that the more disappointing the musical fare provided, the more enjoyable by contrast the social side becomes; had the concerts produced a series of modern masterpieces, the audience would have dispersed quietly and quickly after the concerts, each to his own home to meditate on and preserve his memories of the music. This did not happen.”

— Alan Frank, “The I.S.C.M. Festival,” The Musical Times, Vol. 87, No. 1242 (Aug. 1946), p. 233.

“There was quite a party atmosphere about the twentieth ISCM festival … It was pleasant to welcome back old friends who had not visited since the 1938 festival, though there were many sad gaps due to Nazi persecution. Above all there was the feeling that international contemporary music had at last been given a fresh organized basis in Europe. But it is rather disappointing to admit that a good deal of the music played did not come up to our high expectations.

“The chief impression left by this week of music was of the widening gulf between the older revolutionaries and the younger generation, which aims at simpler and more agreeable means of expression.”

— Humphrey Searle, “ISCM Festival: Britten’s Lucretia,”
Modern Music, volume 23 #4 (Fall 1946), pp. 282 & 284

“Eminent musicians had come from many countries for the first post-war festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music. … The audience could have been larger; and were more polite than enthusiastic.”

— Philip Whitaker, “We shall hear more of Mlle. Barraine,”
Evening Standard (London), 8 July 1946, p. 6 (available online via Newspapers.com).

“Much atonal and kindred music was played at the Goldsmith’s Hall and elsewhere last week at the first post-war festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Most of it made penitential hearing. … After seven years of sealed frontiers the I.S.C.M. has brought to town a breath of revivifying air as well as its hair shirts.”

— Charles Stuart, “Music,” The Observer (London), 14 July 1946, p. 2.

“Sor far there had been next to nothing in the Festival answering to the old-fashioned notion of ‘contemporary.’ Had this become, we asked ourselves, a term suspect now even in the circles that so proudly originated it? There can be no doubt that the bulk of the ‘contemporary’ music produced all over the world in the past thirty or forty years has failed to establish itself in the concert repertory. Had these contemporaries of ours given up the gallant struggle? was the question on many lips. Had they been discouraged by coming up so sharply against what is known in other spheres of industry, I believe, as consumer resistance.”

— Ernest Newman, “The Contemporary Music Festival,” Sunday Times (London), 14 July 1946, p. 2.

“[H]ere for the first time since too many years I could listen to new music from the outside world and begin to pick up threads that had been lost.”

— Scott Goddard, “She Ceased Composing to Aid Resistance – French woman’s success at music festival opening,”
News Chronicle (London), 8 July 1946, p. 3.

Programme information