London Branch




Branch Contact

Ruth Hellen,
30 King James Avenue,

Tel: 01707 876079

The London Branch of The Elgar Society has over 300 members spread around the UK and abroad, with some living as far afield as Australia. Visitors and prospective new members are very welcome to attend meetings; there is no charge for admission and refreshments are available during intervals. The programme of regular illustrated talks is supplemented by occasional concerts and visits.

Unless otherwise indicated, London Branch meetings are held at Queen’s College,  

43-49 Harley Street, London W1G 8BT.        

The nearest Underground station is Oxford Circus. There is a public car park nearby and street parking is possible after 6.30 p.m. Please remember that the area is within the congestion charge zone.

Programme for 2016 – 2017

Tuesday 4 October 2016, 7.30 p.m.

The Spirit of England : Adrian Brown

Adrian Brown, who has conducted this work and studied it in depth, will talk about the genesis of the whole concept from its beginnings at the outbreak of World War I, the tortured composition process, and the production of what Adrian Brown believes to be not only a marked turning point in Elgar’s style but also a masterpiece. The story over those war years will be related and some attention paid to analysing the composition, the text and the influence of Binyon, Elgar’s poet, and the support of his friends.

Monday 7 November 2016, 7.30 p.m.

St James the Less Centre, Thorndike Street, Pimlico SW1V 2PS

Elgar in Germany : Geoff Scargill

This presentation traces the early influence of German music on Elgar, in particular his veneration for Wagner. After dealing with his high reputation in Germany before the First World War and his subsequent fall from grace there, we focus on the current revival of interest in Elgar’s music and the Elgar Society’s role in this. Geoff Scargill, Chairman of the Society’s North West branch, will illustrate his talk with short extracts from Wagner’s and Elgar’s music to illustrate his themes, and original recordings of Elgar works from recent concerts in Germany supported financially by the Society.   We end with a review of current developments, including an exciting project culminating in a performance in June 2017 of The Kingdom in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall.

 Tuesday 6 December 2016, 7.30 p.m.

Elgar’s orchestral music in the United States : Robert Matthew-Walker

The first performance in the United States of Elgar’s Second Symphony under Leopold Stokowski is often claimed to have been a failure, but the background to, and reception of, this important première has almost entirely been misunderstood. Having lived and worked in Cincinnati, the speaker outlines aspects of the performance which shed fresh light on the event, as well as touching on earlier American premières by some of the leading conductors of the pre-World War I era.  Robert Matthew-Walker is a composer and editor of Musical Opinion.

Tuesday 7 February 2017, 7.30 p.m. 

Elgar and Walton : Relf Clark

Given by Relf Clark, who was Branch Secretary from 1995 to 2007, tonight’s talk compares and contrasts the respective careers and achievements of the two composers.   A City solicitor, Relf studied music at Oxford University (like Walton) and has a PhD in historical musicology.

Monday 6 March 2017, 7.30 p.m.

A golden age of recording : Christopher Bishop

Christopher Bishop joined the International Classical Division of EMI in 1964 as a recording producer, becoming Chief Producer in 1972. He left EMI in 1979 to become managing director of the Philharmonia Orchestra.  He talks about recording in the LP era, and the coexistence of classical music with ‘pop’ at Abbey Road Studios. He describes some of the artists he worked with, including Carlo Maria Giulini, Yehudi Menuhin, André Previn, David Willcocks and Janet Baker. His main subject is the great Elgarian, Sir Adrian Boult, all of whose records he produced from 1966, including a number of first complete recordings of Elgar’s works.

Monday 3 April 2017, 7.30 p.m.


‘Our never-to-be-forgotten-friend Rosa Newmarch’ : Peter Avis

Rosa Newmarch was a Russian speaker who, while visiting Russia in the 1890s, got to know several of its composers and then, after the Revolution, turned her attention to Bohemia. She wrote the programme notes for Henry Wood’s Promenade Concerts for some forty years and arranged Janáček’s one and only visit to this country in 1926. She also provided the translations of the Russian poems which Elgar set to music in his part-songs.  Peter Avis is a free-lance writer of CD booklets and programme notes and gives pre-concert talks. In 2012 he made his debut on Radio 4 as the presenter of a programme about Rosa Newmarch and Leoš Janáček.

The planned talk on Sargent by Andrew Keener will take place on a later date

Monday 8 May 2017, 7.30 p.m.     


Queen’s College Preparatory School, 61 Portland Place,  W1B 1Q

    Music and the Crystal Palace: Great Exhibition to Great Fire : Philip Emery     

The popularity of the Great Exhibition led to the permanent establishment of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham where music was central to its major role in public entertainment, education and culture in the second half of the 19th Century.  Philip Emery is a trustee of the Crystal Palace Foundation, a registered charity involved in research, education, publication, conservation and archaeology connected with the Crystal Palace. He is the Director of a musical charity, a keen amateur musician and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society of Arts.

Monday 12 June 2017, 7.30 p.m.

 St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, W1S 1FX

Branch AGM; Elgar’s music for violin and piano 

Simon Baggs & Nick Patrick

Violinist and conductor Simon Baggs will explore Elgar’s music for violin and piano. The presentation will include musical illustrations and live performances.

The recital, at 8.15 p.m., will be preceded at 7.30 p.m. by the Branch AGM.  

Visitors are welcome to attend this free recital.

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