Further to my earlier post about Michael Nyman’s ‘creative impasse’ (as Pwyll ap Siôn called it). This from Tom Sutcliffe in 1984:
Nyman was born in 1944 and went to school up in Walthamstow where he started making a bit of pocket money as a music copyist when he was 13 or 14. He had an excellent hand. He was at the Royal Academy of Music before becoming one of [Thurston] Dart’s musicology students. He had four or five compositions performed in the early Sixties, at least one at an Arts Council-sponsored concert. It was like a cross between Shostakovich and Hindemith.
When he went to the Warour Castle Summer School in 1965, and listened to lectures by Alexander Goehr and met the new, serially-committed generation of young British composers. He left Wardour convinced of the error of his former tonal ways of composition, sat down and started to write serial music, got as far as about 12 bars, and gave up altogether. He felt if he couldn’t be serial he couldn’t be a composer.
Dat proposed he go abroad for a year, put him in the way of a British Council exchange with Romania, and suggested he study folk music there. It was the idea antidote to Wardour. European art music was not the only kind worth taking seriously.
Tom Sutcliffe, The Guardian, July 20, 1984, 9.
Of course, all my sources for this information, though not directly citing each other, may be apocryphal. It reminds me as I am preparing to interview Davies of the importance of asking questions that have already been answered to provide alternate sources for future scholarship.