For many composers of Vaughan Williams' generation, the progress of modernism on the Continent meant little or nothing. Nonetheless, Lord (Gerald) Berners (1883-1950), blessed with a talent for mimicry, could imitate Satiesque wit and satire in his Trois petites marches funèbres for piano (1914) and, by contrast, approach an almost expressionist idiom in another group of piano pieces, the Fragments psychologiques (1921). Influenced by Busoni, Bernard van Dieren (1887-1936), likewise approached expressionism in his Six Sketches for piano (1911) and in parts of his Chinese Symphony (1914), although in his later music he withdrew from such an extreme position.
With Walton's generation, some involvement with modernism was de rigueur. Thus Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) originally drew for inspiration on the music of Ravel, Stravinsky and Les Six as well as ragtime in, for instance, Rout for soprano and chamber ensemble (1920), its Gallic carnival atmosphere punctuated by the singer's nonsense syllables. However, by the time of the expansive and richly-scored Music for Strings, an Elgarian romanticism held sway. Constant Lambert (1905-51) pursued a similar course initially, but with the ragtime influence more pervasive, particularly in The Rio Grande for piano, chorus and orchestra (1927) and the Piano Sonata (1929). The astringent, world-weary Concerto for Piano and Nine Players (1931), which became a memorial to Warlock following his death (probably suicide) marked a new departure, although the balmy climate of The Rio Grande returned with the syncopated rhythms and warm lyricism in the ballet Horoscope (1937). Alan Bush (1900-95), like Bliss, changed course radically during his career, the dissonant counterpoint of his early String Quartet, Dialectic (1929), giving way to a simplified idiom that could be used, as in the Byron Symphony (1960), to communicate with a wider audience and thereby give expression to his Communist beliefs.