Monday 21st March 2022  2:00 pm

Insiders, Outsiders, Refugees from Nazi Europe and their contribution to British visual culture

Monica Bohm Duchen

Despite the traumatic nature of their dislocation and the obstacles they often encountered on arrival in the UK, those who fled here from Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s made a deep, pervasive and long-lasting contribution to British culture. Focussing on the visual arts, this new lecture will examine the nature of this contribution, embracing not only familiar names such as Gombrich, Kokoschka, Moholy-Nagy, Schwitters and Heartfield, but also lesser-known figures such as Albert Reuss, Josef Herman and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky. Monica is the initiator and creative director of the insiders/Outsiders Festival (see www.insidersoutsidersfestival.org), so this topic and its relevance to the present day is much on her mind.

Monica is a London-based freelance lecturer, writer  and exhibition organizer. Has lectured for Tate, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Open University, Sotheby's Institute of Art and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck College since 2005, and has led many tours. Publications include Understanding Modern Art (1991), Chagall (1998/2001), The Private Life of a Masterpiece (2001),The Art and Life of Josef Herman (2009) and Art and the Second World War (2013). She is the initiator and Creative Director of the nationwide Insiders/Outsiders arts festival (see https://insidersoutsidersfestival.org/), and contributing editor of the companion volume, Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees from Nazi Europe and their Contribution to British Visual Culture (2019).


Monday 18th April 2022  2:00 pm

The Enigma of Edward Elgar

Roger Askew


One of our greatest composers, Edward Elgar was an extraordinary man.  Brought up in a provincial town, his father a piano tuner and the owner of a music shop, Elgar was completely self-taught as a musician, evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius.


His path to recognition was hard and bitter.  He had to contend with the prejudices of the British musical establishment, religious bigotry (he was a Roman Catholic) and with the entrenched class-consciousness of late Victorian provincial society.  However, with his wife Alice as his staunchest supporter, from a hesitant start with pieces written for his local music societies, to cantatas celebrating Britain’s history, “King Olaf” and “Caractacus”, he finally achieved national and international success with his “Variations on an original theme (Enigma)” of 1899.  This work demonstrates remarkable technical mastery of form and orchestration and above all an individual and forceful personality.  He went on to create two of the greatest of 20th century symphonies, the magnificent oratorio “The Dream of Gerontius” and two concertos, for violin and cello, among the finest ever written. And of course, he expresses a vigorous patriotism in his “Pomp and Circumstance Marches”.


This lecture, illustrated with many notable musical examples, explores the development of this contradictory musician, always wracked with self-doubt, and explains how his music expresses a quintessential Englishness.

Roger was a chorister at Wells Cathedral School and a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he graduated with an honours degree in English. He combined a teaching career with professional singing in London, and after obtaining a further degree in Music became Director of Music at Daniel Stewart’s and Melville College in Edinburgh.


After retiring in 2003 he returned to the south of England. He is President Emeritus of The Stoke Poges Society and Joint Chairman of the Arts Society Windsor.