Edward Dent’s father was John Dent Dent of Ribston Hall, Wetherby, Yorkshire, who had been a Conservative Member of Parliament. The family home was on a large estate between York and Harrogate.
Dent was educated at Eton College where he studied music with C. H. Lloyd. He then went to King's College, Cambridge University, where his teachers were Charles Wood and C. V. Stanford.
Dent was elected a Fellow of King's College Cambridge in 1902. He began lecturing on the history of music in 1902, and he also taught counterpoint, harmony, and composition. In 1918 Dent moved to London and became a music critic.
In 1926 he returned to Cambridge University as Professor of Music, and he was also elected again as a Fellow of King's College. He was President of the Royal Musical Association from 1928 to 1935.
In 1928 he was one of the founders of the International Society for Contemporary Music, and he was its President from its inauguration. He was then made an Honorary Life President in 1938. He was President of the Société Internationale de Musicologie from 1931 to 1949. He was then made an Honorary Life President in 1949.
He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music at various universities: Oxford in 1932, Harvard in 1936, and Cambridge in 1947. He was a director and later governor of Sadler's Wells Opera, and a director of Covent Garden Opera Trust.
Dent was keen that as many people as possible should enjoy music and opera. His facility with languages allowed him to provide translations of work to make them more accessible to a wider audience.
He retired from his professorship in 1941, and from then on he lived in London. In 1953 he was one of the first two musicians to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 1961 the Royal Musical Association instituted a Dent Medal which is awarded annually to recipients selected for their outstanding contributions to musicology.
His closest friends were Lawrence Haward and J. B. Trend, but he began a close friendship with Clive Carey in 1902 which continued until Edward Dent's death. Clive Carey was a 19-year-old organ scholar at Clare College. Edward Dent wrote him over four hundred letters during their friendship. Another friend was E. M. Forster who represented him as the character Philip Herriton in Where Angels Fear To Tread. Edward Dent also introduced Ronald Firbank to Rupert Brooke.
Edward Dent was part of a circle of gay men at Cambridge which included A. T. 'Theo' Bartholomew. In the summer of 1915 they met Gabriel Atkin who was in Cambridge for his officer training. In August that year they also met Siegfried Sassoon who arrived in Cambridge for the same reason. Gabriel Atkin had already left but Edward Dent engaged in some matchmaking and encouraged Siegfried Sassoon and Gabriel Atkin to meet, which they did in November, 1918. This was the start of an affair of several years.
Further Readings :
Mozart's Operas: A Critical Study by Edward Joseph Dent
Paperback: 472 pages
Publisher: Nabu Press (January 11, 2010)
Amazon: Mozart's Operas: A Critical Study
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