‘Eleven-Fifty’ is the fourth of seven separate songs to various poets written by Lennox Berkeley in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They were grouped together for convenience as Opus 14, No. 2.
‘The Beacon Barn’, the third of these songs, also has a text by Patrick O’Malley who, according to Tony Scotland, was ‘one of the First World War poets who served as a private in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers’. ‘Eleven-Fifty’ was composed in April 1938 and is a brief glorification of a high-speed train where the moto perpetuo accompaniment barely stops. Berkeley admired Honegger, bought a copy of the score of his railway depiction Pacific 231 in 1924 and reviewed enthusiastically an all- Honegger concert conducted by the composer in Paris (‘A Paris Letter’, The Monthly Musical Record, June 1929).