During August 1923, the International Society for Contemporary Music held its first congress in Salzburg, with Edward Dent as its unanimously elected president. Following the end of the war, Dent was very keen to restore contact between the hostile parties and create an international forum for composers from all countries where they could become acquainted with each other's latest music. He also hoped that by becoming aware of the most recent trends on the Continent, British composers would abandon their insularity and contribute to the radical and exciting developments taking place there at the time. Edward Clark, a pupil of Schoenberg, was subsequently active for many years on behalf of the Society and, in addition, was responsible, when he joined the music department at the BBC, for broadcasts of many contemporary works. First performances in England of, for example, Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin, Berg's Wozzeck, Milhaud's Violin Concerto and Schoenberg's Orchestral Variations, Op 31, were the result of his initiative. Clark's enthusiastic support for contemporary music was enlivened not only by a high regard for the works themselves, but also in many cases by a long-lasting friendship with the composers. Among his personal friends he could count Schoenberg, Webern and Stravinsky.
Despite the enlightened attitude of both Dent and Clark, however, the music of the European avant-garde made little impression on the English musical scene. The composers who were held in the greatest esteem between the two World Wars were Vaughan Williams and, among the younger generation, Walton.