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The legendary musicologist Hans Keller described his friend and colleague Deryck Cooke as ‘one of our time’s two or three major analytic intellects’. The posthumous collection of his writings which comprises Vindications, published by Faber in 1982, was selected both from Cooke’s published and unpublished articles and from his many radio talks.

His was a constantly enquiring mind, and the subjects of the essays range widely: from the four composers Cooke cared for most passionately – Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler and Delius – to a justification of the Lennon-McCartney songs (a superb piece of no-nonsense analysis) and an illuminating radio talk on Wuthering Heights. His insights always offer new perspectives, while the longest essay in the book, ‘The Unity of Beethoven’s Late Quartets’, puts forward an important and cogent theory which challenges most accepted views of these great works.

Deryck Cooke’s sadly early death, at the age of 57, deprived us of one of the century’s major thinkers about music, who still had much to offer. With a moving and informative Foreword by the writer and broadcaster, Brian Magee, Vindications stands alongside Cooke’s The Language of Music as a major contribution to musical literature.


Deryck Cooke (1919-1976) was a distinguished musicologist, and a composer and author, notably of the ground-breaking The Language of Music (OUP 1959). After studying at Cambridge University, most of his career was spent as a senior producer for the BBC’s music department. His lasting memorial is the performing version of the unfinished draft of Mahler’s 10th Symphony, which received its…

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