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The Sackbut

(London, 1920-1934)

Prepared by Richard Kitson
Online only (2022)

The British monthly music journal The Sackbut, including and absorbing “the existing circulation, subscription list and organization” of The Organist and Choirmaster, was founded by the publisher Winthrop Rogers at the instigation of the first editor, Philip Heseltine (1894–1930), also known by his pseudonym, Peter Warlock. In its entirety, The Sackbut was published in London as forty-three monthly issues, all containing forty pages printed in single column format, from May 1920 until February 1934. Heseltine prepared eight issues for publication in 1920 and, after a three-month hiatus, an additional issue, dated March 1921. Still later, another issue appeared in June 1921. The journal’s secretary, Miss Voules, gathered Heseltine’s manuscripts to create the June 1921 issue, without explaining her actions to the absent Heseltine. At this point Heseltine was forced to abandon his interest in the project owing to numerous irregularities of his personal life.

John Kenneth Curwen of the highly respected educational music publishing firm Curwen & Sons bought the journal in 1921 and appointed his wife (mistress?), the twenty-eight-year-old high soprano and collector of folksongs Ursula Greville to the position of editor. The publication schedule of volumes issued under the editorship of Greville, organized as beginning in August of one year through July of the next year, was maintained for vols. 2 through 10 (1921–30). Volume 11 (1930–31) was reduced to eleven issues. In vols. 12 and 13 (1931–33) The Sackbut was treated as a quarterly. Seven monthly issues were resumed in vol. 14 (1933–34). The journal’s final issue, dated February 1934, is without comment as to the suspension of publication.

For a more thorough study of this journal and the roles of Heseltine and Greville, see Richard Kitson, “Ursula Greville, Philip Heseltine, and The Sackbut (London, 1920-1934)” in Musical History as Seen Through Contemporary Eyes: Essays in Honor of H. Robert Cohen, ed. Benjamin Knysak and Zdravko Blažeković (Vienna: Hollitzer, 2021): 109-24. An electronic version of this paper will be available in the JSTOR e-books collection soon; a PDF copy of this article can be found above.