Journal Abstracts

This page shows detailed abstracts of articles appearing in all issues of the Elgar Society Journal since 1999.


Moody, CatherineArthur Troyte Griffith 1864 – 1942: Enigma Variation (No VII, ‘Troyte’) and Malvern characterArthur Troyte Griffith, a friend of Elgar’s, was a Malvern-based architect and water-colourist. There are many anecdotes showing his character, and research into his work shows him to have been a practical and gifted architect.1999 March1112 to 6
Mandell, RobertElgar: The Enigma Variations - Leonard Bernstein conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal & PerformanceThe author worked with Bernstein on several occasions, including his recording of the Enigma Variations with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In spite of the extremely slow tempi, and the resulting bad-tempered exchanges between conductor and orchestra during rehearsal, the orchestra’s playing on the final recording is marvellous. 1999 March1117 to 10
Neill, AndrewThe Great War (1914 to 1919): Elgar and the Creative ChallengeIn common with most creative artists, Elgar was deeply affected by World War I. The Elgar diaries and letters give an insight into the impact of events over the years and the music which Elgar was writing. With the significant exception of The Spirit of England, much of his output during the course of the war was escapist, but with peace came the ability once more to write music of real inspiration, notably the chamber works.1999 March11111 to 41
Seal, HughMemories of Elgar and ReadThe author studied violin with WH Reed and took part in a performance of The Dream of Gerontius conducted by Elgar. One of his lessons took place just after Reed had heard that Elgar was dying. The author became Rector of Morecambe and was involved with the festival supported many years before by Canon Gorton.1999 March11142
Trowell, Brian‘Bramo assai’ : a postscriptA final paragraph as an afterthought to the article "A minor Elgarian enigma solved" (November 1998). This concerned Elgar’s deliberate misquotation of Tasso at the end of the autograph full score of the Enigma Variations, following Elizabeth Barrett’s correct use of the quotation as an epigraph to a volume of poems. The original reads ‘Brama assai, poco spera, e nulla chiede’. 1999 March11143
Still more on Elgar/Payne 3 A reprint of an article in the Sunday Telegraph (11/98) by Michael Kennedy in which he states that, despite the inevitable questions, we have “a new masterpiece from a composer whose work we thought we knew in its entirety”. An article by Peter Taylor follows, detailing his own response to repeated hearings of the symphony1999 March11143 to 48
Winter, JohnElgar’s Te Deum & BenedictusElgar’s church music rarely receives sufficient appreciation. This work repays analysis and performance: it is meticulous in detail and if the markings are followed it is possible to hear that it is far finer than much of the church music written by his contemporaries and does not deserve neglect.1999 July11270 to 74
McGuire, Charles EElgar: One story, two visions - textual differences between Elgar’s and Newman’s The Dream of GerontiusThe Dream of Gerontius signalled a departure from compositional tradition, but the importance of its text transcends the uniqueness of its subject. A careful comparison of the original poem and the finished libretto reveals that Elgar radically altered the philosophical thrust of the poem, shifting the focus of the oratorio away from Newman’s vision of the afterlife towards Gerontius as a suffering human figure.1999 July11275 to 88
Bury, DavidElgar and Queen Mary’s dolls’ house Elgar was greatly affronted at being asked to provide a piece of music for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, designed by Edwin Lutyens. Many creative artists made a contribution to this project, which was completed for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. Ironically, Elgar was very involved in providing music for the celebrations at Wembley, though this was not a happy occasion for him. Had Alice not died in 1920, might his attitude have been different?1999 July11289 to 96
Herter, Joseph AElgar’s Polonia Op.76 The Great War (1914 to 18) did not inspire many Polish composers to write music “for the cause.” Among works by Ignacy Paderewski and Zygmunt Stojowski, Elgar’s fantasia on Polish national airs provided the most outstanding, dramatic and nobly patriotic musical gesture for the Polish cause during the First World War.1999 July11297 to 109
Moore, Jerrold NorthropObituary: The Lord Menuhin (1916 to 1999) Menuhin’s playing style owed much to his work with Elgar. The long lines of Elgar’s conducting connected Menuhin to the greatest violin traditions, going back through Ysaÿe and Joachim to Vivaldi and Corelli, who were so important to Elgar.1999 July112110 to 111
Elgar and the boy violinist: a batch of letters This article originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 20 October 1934 and includes the text of letters from Elgar to Menuhin in 1932, as well as one from Menuhin to Elgar.1999 July113111 to 115
Moore, Jerrold NorthropThe return of the dove to the ark: ‘Enigma’ Variations a century on. The article is based on the text of the author’s A T Shaw Lecture given to the Elgar Society on 5 June 1999 at Great Malvern. The Variations announced a mature new presence, with roots in the private experience of the man himself, and at the same time anticipating the career that was to unfold over the next twenty years. It was and still is without a parallel anywhere in music.1999 November113134 to 143
Hecht, RogerElgar’s Sea Pictures: A short history, interpretation, and annotated discography. Sea Pictures was written in the same year as the Enigma Variations . Though popular with audiences from its première, it has long existed in the shadow of its illustrious predecessor, particularly in the minds of critics. Much of the criticism centres on the texts, but the work repays close analysis and, however one ranks Sea Pictures as poetry, it is a fine piece of music. The discography assesses 16 full recordings of the work, plus a few historical partial readings.1999 November113144 to 179
Hodgkins, Geoffrey“Oh! That Sheffield chorus”: King Olaf at the 1899 Sheffield FestivalThe first Sheffield Festival took place on 13th to 14th October 1896. Its success was acknowledged to have been based on the outstanding choral singing. The 1899 Festival lasted three days and included Elgar’s King Olaf . The composer, who was conducting, wrote that ‘the chorus is absolutely the finest in the world’. The press reports of the time convey the success of the performance and the work itself.1999 November113180 to 187
Fellowes-Jensen, GillianKing Olaf Tryggvason and Sir Edward ElgarKing Olaf is the subject of one of Elgar's early major works. Elgar may have been attracted to the subject because of its possible Scandinavian roots, but this view is open to dispute. A more likely explanation was the fashion of deriving inspiration from Nordic epic literature. The example of Longfellow was influential, particularly as he was one of Elgar's favourite authors. Elgar used only a very small part of the saga of Olaf, who is mentioned in several reputable historical sources.2000 March114202 to 218
Boyle, RoryInterpreting Elgar: A conductor’s thoughtsMost of Elgar's great choral works were written for specific choral festivals and the quality of performances they received varied. The chorus is crucial to virtually every scene in these works, which makes the music most rewarding to conduct and sing. The Apostles and The Kingdom contain moments of tremendous drama as well as sheer beauty, and The Dream of Gerontius is a work of genius that is much more demanding, but even more rewarding to perform.2000 March114219 to 226
Hooey, Charles A.Singer, soldier: Remembering Charles MottSurveys the life of the English baritone Charles Mott (d.1918), who began his musical career as a chorister in Muswell Hill and went on to perform a wide range of roles at Covent Garden.2000 March114227 to 236
Mitchell, Kevin D.Any friend of Elgar’s is a friend of mine: Barbirolli and ElgarJohn Barbirolli's association with Elgar's music began at a young age and continued to the end of his life. He played under Elgar's baton in 1919 to 20 and was an early interpreter of the violoncello concerto. He began to conduct Elgar's music from the outset of his career and his work was praised by Elgar himself. Many performances and recordings of Elgar's music followed; they did not always receive positive reviews from those who disliked his emotional approach, but were acclaimed by many others. He succeeded in affirming Elgar's stature as a composer.2000 July115250 to 269
Young, Percy M.Elgar and CambridgeIn 1900 Charles Villiers Stanford proposed Elgar for an honorary MusD at Cambridge. Elgar initially intended to refuse the honour, but he was persuaded to accept. Several Cambridge performances of Elgar's music were given during his lifetime, including The Apostles and The Kingdom .2000 July115270 to 275
Rushton, JulianA devil of a fugue: Berlioz, Elgar and Introduction and allegroElgar's fugues in The Dream of Gerontius (Demons' chorus ), The Kingdom , and the Introduction and allegro are analysed and compared to similar music by Berlioz and Liszt. It is possible that Elgar associated fugues largely with demonic music, a view prompted by his description of the Introduction and allegro passage as "a devil of a fugue".2000 July115276 to 287
Hooey, Charles A.More on Mott...Following an article on the baritone Charles Mott in the previous issue of this journal (RILM 2000 to 50527), further material has come to light, including a letter sent to Elgar from Mott four days before he was fatally wounded in battle.2000 July115288 to 289
Hodgkins, GeoffreyThe passionate pilgrimage of a soul: Elgar and Canon Temple GairdnerWilliam Henry Temple Gairdner was born in Ardrossan in 1873. Upon the completion of his studies at Oxford he became a missionary in Cairo. After obtaining a score of The Apostles in 1904 he developed an interest in Elgar's music and began a correspondence with him. They subsequently met and Gairdner attended some of Elgar's concerts when he visited England. A collection of Gairdner's writings was issued in 1930, two years after his death, and includes a chapter analysing Elgar's second symphony. A reproduction of the chapter is included.2000 November116306 to 324
Hecht, RogerOverview: English symphoniesThere is a view that English symphonies have not fared well in the U.S. Part of the reason may be the special character of English music. Comparisons are made between the styles of British and American conductors and recommendations are made for recordings of each of Elgar's symphonies.2000 November116325 to 333
Trott, Michael Frank Bernard Greatwich (1906 to 2000)An obituary for Frank Greatwich, who died in Malvern on 20 September 2000. A journalist by profession, he was a founding member of the Elgar Society, was instrumental in the formation of the London branch, and helped arrange for Elgar's commemorative plaque in Worcester and the memorial stone in Westminster Abbey.2000 November116333
Hodgkins, GeoffreyTwo rare Elgar photographsTwo rare Elgar photographs are reproduced. The first appears in Landon Ronald's book 'Myself and others; and shows Elgar with A.S.M. Hutchinson, Sir Ernest Hodder-Williams, Sir Frederic Cowen, and Sir Landon Ronald. The second, which has only recently come to light, was found in a frame containing a photo of Bevanhill Cottage, Bromsgrove. It was taken in 1928 on the occasion of Herbert Brewer's funeral and shows Elgar with Charles Lee Williams (Brewer's predecessor as organist of Gloucester Cathedral) and Theodore Hannam to Clark, a member of the Gloucester Three Choirs Executive Committee.2000 November116334 to 335
Elgar and the Cambridge doctorateOn 22 November 1900, Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University. The Public Orator gave a speech in Latin, listing Elgar’s achievements. This is printed here, along with an English translation.2000 November116336 to 337
Smith, BarryElgar and Warlock (Philip Heseltine)Elgar and Warlock would seem, on the surface, to have little in common. There are, however, some similarities in character and in the mood of their music. Elgar made quite an impression on the young Heseltine, who did not lose his enthusiasm for Elgar’s music even after he discovered Delius. There are numerous references to Elgar in Heseltine’s journal ' The Sackbut ' and he was a signatory in the protest against Edward Dent’s treatment of Elgar. The article contains the full texts of Heseltine’s published writings on Elgar.2001 March1212 to 20
Another rare Elgar photographMost people are familiar with the photograph taken at Abbey Road when Yehudi Menuhin recorded the Elgar violin concerto (1932). The reproduction shown here is rare because it shows more details of the orchestra and equipment. Also reproduced is a page from the French set of discs, including Elgar’s inscription for the Menuhin family.2001 March12121
Maund, PhilipElgar's brass band thing: The Severn suite - postscriptFollowing the acquisition of Elgar's autograph brass band score of the Severn suite , it is now possible to be clear about the key in which Elgar intended it to be published, as it had long been thought that the first printed edition was a tone lower than intended. Examination of the score also sheds light on Elgar's scoring methods.2001 March12124 to 29
Denison, JohnPlaying with ElgarJohn Denison was a horn player during the 1930s. As a freelance member of the Eastbourne orchestra he took part in an all-Elgar programme conducted by the composer. He recalls the passages Elgar rehearsed and describes the concert as being an inspiring occasion.2001 March12129 to 30
Mitchell, Kevin D.A discography of Barbirolli’s Elgar recordingsJohn Barbirolli made many Elgar recordings between 1927 and 1970. The short reviews contain the original record numbers and the latest CD numbers at the time of writing. There is a list of comparative timings for different recordings of the major works.2001 March12131 to 49
Suter, AnthonyNimrod in the metro: Hearing Elgar in FranceHearing Nimrod being played in the Toulouse metro prompted an investigation of Elgar's reputation in France. A study of Elgar performances on French radio was discouraging and some performances were disappointing. Coverage of CD releases during the last decade has been quite extensive, but historical reissues are rare. Conducting this study led to an examination of the author’s relationship with Elgar’s music: the idea that only English musicians can interpret Elgar properly is absurd, but listening to the music is still associated with a love of England.2001 July12262 to 70
Moore, Ruth NewcombMemoirs of a young singerRuth Newcomb Moore (nee Price) was born in 1914. As a member of the Croydon Philharmonic Society Choir from 1934 to 1943 she took part in many Elgar performances. Diary entries form the basis of these memoirs, which recall rehearsals and performances featuring many famous singers of the day, including Isobel Baillie and Heddle Nash.2001 July12271 to 85
Clegg, NoraEdward ElgarThe author was the sister-in-law of the Rev. Charles Gorton, a friend of Elgar's. She wrote an article on Elgar and his choral music for her music society, incorporating information from published works and anecdotes provided by Gorton.2001 July12286 to 90
Whittle, JohnA record life: 1927–1975This is the text of a speech given by John Whittle on the occasion of his retirement from EMI. From an early age, Whittle loved gramophone records. He began his career in 1925 with a holiday job at the HMV shop in Oxford Street, progressing to running the sales promotion department from 1947 and becoming a senior executive in the classical department. He was involved with many great recordings and artists, and has fond memories of working with the regional orchestras. His proudest achievement was the recording of Elgar's The Apostles .2001 November123106 to 117
McVeagh, DianaElgar's Concert allegroIn 1901, the pianist Fanny Davies asked Elgar for a concerto. The new piece was performed in December 1901 but was not published. At the time of writing a MS had recently come to light; after analysing the MS, the author and John Ogdon independently concluded that this was Fanny Davies' copy of the Concert allegro . Ogdon performed the work on television in 1969, the first performance in 60 years. (Reprint of an article from 1969)2001 November123118 to 124
Zimmermann, Frank-PeterElgar Violin ConcertoFrank-Peter Zimmermann was interviewed for Bavarian Radio on 9 March 2001 and spoke about the concerto. Having performed it several times, he believes it to be a great virtuoso work, with mystical moments, which reflects the mood of its time.2001 November123124 to 126
Suter, AnthonyPost-scriptum to Nimrod in the MetroAn addition to the article in 12/22001 November123127
Coronation ode : Analytical notesJoseph Bennett (1831–1911) was one of the leading music critics of his day. This analysis was written, by special request, for a state performance of Elgar’s C oronation ode in Covent Garden Theatre, to celebrate what should have been the coronation of Edward VII. The king’s illness resulted in the cancellation of the performance, but the work is valuable in its own right. The analysis is followed by a letter from Elgar to Herbert Thompson explaining the ideas behind the work.2002 March124138 to 155
Herter, Joseph A.Elgar's Polonia updatedInformation concerning Elgar's Polonia can now be updated following the discovery of additional programmes and newspaper clippings. The first American performance took place as part of a benefit concert in 1916 for Paderewski's Polish Victims Relief Fund; the programme included music by Wieniawski, Paderewski, Chopin, and Moniuszko. The reviews show that Polonia was well received.2002 March124156 to 159
Langford, Samuel; Priestley, J.B.; Cohen, AlexElgar and EnglishnessThree articles, previously published in other forms, explore the view of Elgar as an Englishman and an Edwardian. Although his music is appreciated in other countries, it changed the face of music in England, particularly in the development of choral singing. In spite of the generally accepted Englishness of his music, he should not be seen as insular and it cannot be assumed that the best interpreters are always English.2002 March124160 to 166
Lemon, DavidElgar's Gerontius : A dream of transcendenceThe imagery in The Dream of Gerontius occasionally proves an obstacle to the appreciation of the work. It is rooted, however, in English literature and art, and should be seen in the context of the works of Blake, Donne and Turner. When Elgar was writing the work, audiences would have been familiar with the themes of death, transformation, and redemption. An analysis of the work with these thoughts in mind enables the listener to make sense of the work and to accept the imagery in this unique oratorio.2002 July125183 to 191
Shiel, Alison I. Charles Sanford Terry in the Elgar diaries: The chronicle of a friendshipCharles Sanford Terry, one of the leading music scholars of his day, developed friendships with many eminent musicians, including Edward Elgar. This friendship was at its peak from 1906 to 1920 and included Sir Edward, Lady Elgar, and their daughter Carice. The bond between Terry and Carice is particularly touching and is illustrated by mementoes in the Elgar Birthplace Museum. Terry was able to support the family in troubled times and was also present at important musical occasions. It can be said that Terry's interest in Bach was inspired by his friendship with Elgar and Ivor Atkins.2002 July125192 to 201
Foreman, LewisSir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852 to 1924): Choral music - A personal odyssey for the 150th anniversary of his birthStanford has long been recognized as a composition teacher, but only now is he beginning to be seen as an important figure in British music. His temperament often led to disputes with his contemporaries, but he was always able to recognize worthwhile music. He was a prolific composer in most forms of music, but only his choral music gained immediate recognition. Discovering lesser to known choral masterpieces has been made more difficult by publishers disposing of performance material and by changes in personnel. His later works show a composer out of his time, but there are examples which are worth reviving, a case in point being Merlin and the Gleam, currently being re to orchestrated for performance by the Broadheath Singers.2002 July125202 to 208
Walker, Arthur D.Symphony no. 1: A paper trail to its pastA hand-dated miniature score of Elgar’s first symphony appeared initially to be a first issue. Study of another score cast doubt on this assumption, and offers clues to the timing of the work’s early performances under Richter and Elgar.2002 July125209 to 210
Johnson, StephenElgar-Payne: Whose symphony?Anthony Payne's elaboration of the sketches for Elgar's third symphony is a musical success. Had Elgar completed the work himself, the result would have been different, but it is now impossible to look at Elgar's sketches without understanding them within the context created by Payne. On the surface the work appears to be the product of two creative minds, but there are many subtleties which point to a unifying purpose. Payne has said that much of his work was not the result of conscious calculation, but that ideas and developments seemed to suggest themselves. The end result is one integrated, compelling work, in which the honours are equally divided.2002 November126235 to 242
Bury, DavidWas Arthur Benson a jingoist?The words of Land of hope and glory attract the charge of jingoism. Whilst Elgar has been largely exonerated, the case for the author of the words, Arthur C. Benson, needs to be explored. There is no evidence that Elgar disliked the words, which met the needs of the time. Benson was neither a man of strong political views nor a royal sycophant, and he deplored the Boer War. He was a prolific poet with real talent, was kind, generous, and tolerant, and hated bombast and cruelty. He should not be condemned on the grounds of some of the words in his most famous poem.2002 November126243 to 251
Shiel, Alison I. Charles Sanford Terry and the Elgar violin concertoElgar's violin concerto, and the circumstances surrounding its composition, has been the subject of much scholarly activity. Additional light has been shed on the work by the study of a volume in the British Library, London, consisting of a first-proof copy of the score (given to Terry by Elgar) along with letters from the Elgars, notes and observations by Terry, and concert tickets. The notes show that Terry was closely involved with the early rehearsals and performances, although he makes no reference to any private history which may lie behind the dedication or the music.2002 November126252 to 261
Reynolds, Arthur S.Hedley's ElgarAn inscription on Percival Hedley's bronze bust of Elgar in the National Portrait Gallery prompted comparison with a similar wax version. Researching the links between the two brought to light information on the sculptor’s main work as a prolific medallist. He produced a series of plaques showing portraits of musicians of his day including Saint-Saëns, Hans Richter, Clara Butt, and Tchaikovsky.2003 March1313 to 9
Hooey, Charles A.Muriel the gorgeousThe contralto Muriel Foster (1877–1937) was a friend of Elgar and his preferred performer in many of his works, some of which were written with her in mind. From her time as a student at the Royal College of Music, she decided to avoid opera and concentrate on oratorio and recitals. In addition to regular work in England, she performed in Germany, Holland, Russia, Canada, and the U.S., always to great critical acclaim. Sadly, she made no recordings, but should be remembered for her contribution to Elgar's music in particular.2003 March13110 to 25
Gould, CorissaEdward Elgar, the Crown of India , and the image of empireElgar's music for Crown of India was written in 1912 in response to a commission for a masque at the London Coliseum. Its artistic integrity has been questioned over the years by commentators who are uncomfortable with its imperialist sentiments. A re-examination of the text and music provides a starting point for a more historically accurate view.2003 March13125 to 35
Shiel, Alison I. Elgar's visits to AberdeenElgar's friend, Charles Sanford Terry, was professor of history at Aberdeen University. Terry invited Elgar to Aberdeen in 1906 to receive the degree of honorary LLD and to encourage local musicians. In 1909, Elgar was invited to a banquet in honour of Terry, where both spoke on the subject of municipal aid for musical events, and on the importance of audience education. In subsequent years Terry was to help Elgar with his violin concerto and with the Elgar-Atkins edition of Bach's St. Matthew Passion.2003 March13136 to 40
Moore, Jerrold NorthropA word to the wiseThe break up and sale of the Novello archive has been the subject of recent discussion. Jerrold Moore, during his preparation of much Elgar correspondence for publication, put routine letters concerning Elgar's conducting engagements to one side. These unpublished letters, which are the subject of the discussion, are not in the same league as the published correspondence.2003 July1323 to 4
Parrott, IanElgar: "The first English progressive musician"The Apostles is arguably Elgar's greatest choral work. The music is bold and forward-looking, with original orchestration, and is astonishingly modern in comparison with the preceding era of Victorian hymns.2003 July1325 to 8
Hodgkins, GeoffreyEverything I can lay my hands on: Elgar’s theological library. IElgar assembled his own libretto for The Apostles . His tuition in the Catholic faith had been largely based on verbal communication, so his knowledge of the Bible was, at first, limited. The wide variety of sources which he consulted can be identified by those volumes which remain in the Elgar Birthplace collection and from the 1918 inventory of the contents of Elgar's London home, Severn House. (Part II appears in 14/5)2003 July1329 to 18
Hooey, Charles A.The immortal sextetThe Apostles calls for six soloists. At the first performance these were Emma Albani, Muriel Foster, John Coates, Robert Kennerley Rumford, David Ffrangcon-Davies, and Andrew Black. Each of these was an established soloist. All except Foster and Ffrangcon-Davies can be heard on record.2003 July13219 to 26
Smith, Richard"Shophar, sho good": Early American performances of 'The Apostles'The first performance of The Apostles in the U.S. took place in New York in February 1904. The work was coolly received but earned much better reviews after the second performance several weeks later. Subsequent performances included two conducted by Elgar himself in 1906 and 1907.2003 July13227 to 36
Staveley, NormanA provincial performance of The ApostlesThe first performance of The Apostles in Kingston upon Hull took place in March 1907. A public lecture on the work was given during February by Dr Thomas Keighley, who illustrated the leitmotifs at the piano. The performance was well received but since then the work has only been performed on one further occasion, in 1938.2003 July13237 to 39
McCann, Wesley Early performances of Elgar's music in BelfastElgar's only visit to Ireland took place on 21 October 1932 to conduct the Enigma variations and The Dream of Gerontius in Belfast. Music making in Belfast was largely based on several amateur choral societies; the most significant of these was the Belfast Philharmonic Society, whose concerts attracted many international soloists. A local impresario, H.B. Phillips, promoted ambitious concert series throughout Ireland, and the BBC opened its Belfast station and formed a permanent orchestra in 1924. Audiences were therefore able to enjoy a wide range of music, including many performances of music by Elgar by leading interpreters.2003 November1333 to 14
Hawker, Nicholas Composer as librettist: Elgar's notes on The ApostlesIn comparison with The Dream of Gerontius , the libretto of The Apostles has been subject to much criticism of its supposed lack of a central focus. Elgar may have been aware of this possible interpretation and compiled a series of notes, mainly concerned with his compilation of the libretto. These notes, now in the British Library, London, show that he was primarily concerned with portraying characters, particularly Judas Iscariot. They provide a fascinating insight into the changes he made, the sources he consulted and his use of various authentic musical themes, and show that the work should be seen as a carefully written whole.2003 November13315 to 27
Kelly, John Alfred Edward Rodewald (1862–1903)Alfred Edward Rodewald was born on 28 January 1862. He learned piano and violin as a boy, then moved to double bass while at Charterhouse. He took over the running of the family cotton brokerage in Liverpool in 1892, and became well known in musical circles, conducting the Liverpool Orchestral Society and introducing much previously unfamiliar music, such as Wagner's. He was friendly with many musicians and formed a particularly close friendship with Elgar. A sudden illness led to his death in 1903, leaving Elgar distraught. It is usually forgotten that the famous Pomp and circumstance march no.1 was dedicated to Rodewald and his orchestra: surely a fitting memorial.2003 November13329 to 35
Hodgkins, Geoffrey Watchmen - but what of the Knight? Elgar and the musical pressIn 2002, Meirion Hughes published a view of Elgar as a skilled manipulator of the musical press. This is a misrepresentation, shown here by looking at the background to the cuttings books, 15 volumes of press cuttings (clippings), which are kept at the Elgar Birthplace Museum in Broadheath. The assertion that Elgar had good relationships with several critics is not borne out by the facts: he was much more interested in working musicians. He was certainly not praised by much of the musical press and, in turn, made less than complimentary remarks about critics in general. The conclusion is that Hughes's case is conjectural and that Elgar's reputation rests on his music rather than on its reception by critics.2003 November13336 to 43
Reynolds, Arthur S. The Elgar Festival at Covent Garden - March 1904The idea of an Elgar Festival was proposed by Frank Schuster in 1903. The three day festival was remarkable both for the length of time devoted to one composer and for the fact that it did not take place in one of the London concert halls. It therefore attracted a new audience from smart society; the king and queen unexpectedly attended on the second night as well as the first. The festival was a huge success and led to Elgar being knighted. Perhaps, however, it also resulted in his losing touch with his younger self as he tried to cope with fame.2004 March1343 to 14
Harper-Scott, J.P.E. Henry and the Gräfin/grinder: Elgar and The Starlight ExpressThe Starlight Express, op. 78, was a stage adaptation by Violet Pearn of the Algernon Blackwood novel, A Prisoner in Fairyland. Elgar's incidental music for the play was written in 1915, at a time of national and personal artistic crisis and has generally been regarded as escapist fantasy. But an examination of the themes of the novel, and their changed appearance in the play, suggests that Elgar's interest in the project might be explained by darker aspects of what seems ostensibly a whimsical story of childhood adventure. Seen in this light, the work begins to resonate with other, better known works by Elgar which deal with childhood in similarly surprising ways.2004 March13415 to 23
Trott, Michael Elgar's remarkable motherAnn Greening was born in 1822 in Herefordshire. She grew up in a family of farm labourers with few opportunities for education, but became a voracious reader of books and poetry. She married William Elgar in 1848 and had seven children, one of whom was Edward. He inherited her love of literature and the countryside; she surely had a significant influence on his development as a composer.2004 March13425 to 28
Lace, Ian Bernard Herrmann's admiration and appreciation of ElgarBernard Herrmann, best remembered for his film scores, was a keen Anglophile, visiting England on many occasions and living there towards the end of his life. In his youth he championed Elgar's music in the U.S., conducting Falstaff as well as the more popular pieces. In 1957 he wrote a short essay for Novello on an American’s impression of Elgar’s music. He believed that few conductors outside England appreciated the flexibility of tempo required for a successful performance.2004 March13429 to 33
Shiel, Alison I. Elgar, Charles Sanford Terry, and J.S. BachThe music of Bach was important to Terry and Elgar from their childhood, although their early lives followed quite different paths. Their own friendship developed through their involvement in the Three Choirs Festival. Terry was influential in the preparation of the Elgar-Atkins edition of the St. Matthew Passion, an edition which he used in his Bach Society concerts in Aberdeen. The music of Bach continued to be of great importance to both Terry and Elgar throughout their lives: for Terry as a Bach scholar of worldwide fame, and for Elgar as an influence in composition.2004 July1353 to 12
Ward, Yvonne M. Edward Elgar, A.C. Benson, and the creation of Land of hope and gloryElgar has frequently been criticized for writing imperialist music and Arthur Benson derided as a minor jingoistic poet. Together they produced what has become a second national anthem, the writing of which is surrounded by myth and legend. The first version was written as the finale to a Coronation ode , op. 44, planned for the coronation of King Edward VII; the second was written as a popular song for the coronation concert. They survive as two separate musical works.2004 July13513 to 25
Moody, Catherine The sounds that Elgar heard. I: A background for composition - Saetermo and ForliElgar was extremely sensitive to his surroundings and to nature. The same surroundings have provided the author with inspiration for creating paintings. The sounds he would have heard and the views he would have seen from two of his houses, Saetermo and Forli, were still there years later to influence a new generation of artists. (Part II appears in 13/6)2004 July13527 to 35
Parkin, Ernest Elgar and literatureElgar’s love of literature was nurtured by his mother, who particularly loved the works of Longfellow. Elgar was a model of self education; he read widely and his reading influenced his music. He used literature for the purpose of self-revelation and self-concealment, communicating his feeling about his art through literary texts and allusions.2004 November1363 to 22
Moody, Catherine The sounds that Elgar heard. II: A composer, nature and the human conditionBirchwood Lodge was a cottage used by the Elgars as a retreat for several years. Although not far from Malvern, it provided relief from teaching and the class structure of Malvern society; it was here he learned to ride a bicycle. (Part I appears in 13/5)2004 November13623 to 30
Moodie, Andrew Elgar’s "Enigma": The solution?During his life Elgar hinted at the source of the "Enigma" theme. These could possibly have been red herrings designed to hide the fact that the theme is based on the letters of Alice Elgar's name in the form of Carice.2004 November13631 to 34
Green, Edmund M. Elgar’s "Enigma": A Shakespearian solutionMany people have attempted to solve the mystery of the "Enigma" theme, but no one has, as yet, suggested a purely literary solution. The larger theme referred to by Elgar is Shakespeare’s 66th sonnet, whose lines tie in with the idiosyncrasies of his friends, and the word "Enigma" stands for the real name of the dark lady in sonnets 127 to 152.2004 November13635 to 40
Pickett, StephenElgar’s "Enigma": A decryption?Many people have struggled to find the larger theme in the Enigma variations . Far from being a musical theme, the solution is an acrostic linking the names or initials of the variations with the title, Rule Britannia.2004 November13641 to 45
Moody, Catherine The sounds that Elgar heard. III: The human life and nature in balanceBefore her marriage to Elgar, Alice Roberts lived in Redmarley d’Abitot among a society interested in research in the natural sciences. This social life prepared her for the role she was to play in supporting Elgar as he became well known. Another family connected with Elgar, the Norburys, lived at Sherridge in Leigh Sinton. Winifred Norbury assisted him with writing orchestral parts and Florence was responsible for introducing Elgar's music to Richter in Germany. (Parts I and II appear in 13/5 and 13/6)2005 March14142341
Reynolds. Arthur S. The last later-Romantics: Edward Elgar and John Singer SargentElgar and John Singer Sargent met on a few occasions at the house of Frank Schuster. Their mutual respect never became friendship but they had more in common than this acquaintance might suggest. Their respective childhoods did not augur well for future greatness, in spite of having talented fathers. Both mothers fostered a love of Romanticism and neither boy had what could be called a formal education. Sargent loved music and both men were influenced by Wagner. One of the reasons why they did not become better acquainted may be that, by the time they met, Elgar was well established and did not need the kind of support which Sargent provided for Fauré, Albéniz, and other musicians.2005 March14113 to 30
Elgar, EdwardThe College HallCollege Hall is part of the King's School in Worcester. It was used for concerts at which many great musicians appeared and Elgar's father played in the orchestra there. In 1881 Alexander Mackenzie's The Bride was performed, a great event for young musicians to witness. Elgar met Mackenzie on that and subsequent occasions and paid tribute to him in this short article.2005 March14133 to 35
Parrott, IanThe seeds of greatnessOn first hearing, some of Elgar's early music may seem bland. There are, however, signs of his future mature style in earlier works, in particular the organ sonata op. 28. Slow movements develop so that the second subject is often more impassioned as Elgar's inspiration increases.2005 March14136 to 38
Pickard, JohnDisillusion and dissolution: Elgar and the poetry of doubtElgar's music is believed by some to be arrogant and jingoistic. Detailed study of the music, particularly the symphonies, concertos, and chamber music, shows that behind the mask are deep emotional truths and a thorough knowledge of the techniques of the Classical masters.2005 July1423 to 17
Blamires, Ernest"Loveliest, brightest, best": A reappraisal of Enigma 's variation XIII. IThe subject of Elgar's variation 13 from the Enigma variations has long been thought to be Lady Mary Lygon. This view is supported by some of Elgar's notes, but study of other sources suggests a closer link with the fiancée of Elgar's youth, Helen Weaver.2005 July14219 to 36
Moody, CatherineElgar at the wheelA photograph in a previous edition of the Elgar Society Journal shows Elgar at the wheel of an unidentified car. Investigation into the likely model of this car provides information on the early days of car manufacture and motoring in the Malvern area. It is possible that the mystery car is a Burston steam-car.2005 July14237 to 46
Andrew NeillElgar in Smyrna, 1905In September 1905 Elgar embarked on a month's cruise in the eastern Mediterranean, visiting Greece and Turkey, as a guest of the Royal Navy. Photographs and excerpts from his journal convey his impressions and experiences and provide information on the people who accompanied him. It is also possible to gain an insight into continental travel 100 years ago. The voyage resulted in the composition of the piano piece In Smyrna.2005 November1433 to 24
Blamires, Ernest"Loveliest, brightest, best": A reappraisal of Enigma 's variation XIII. IIIn 1899, Lady Mary Lygon was told by a friend that Elgar had portrayed her in his new Variations on an original theme, ("Enigma") . In order to avoid naming Variation 13, Elgar inserted three asterisks, masking the identity of the real dedicatee, Helen Weaver, and allowing people to believe that the asterisks indicated Lady Mary. Subsequent letters and information provided by Wulstan Atkins support this theory. (Part I appears in 14/2)2005 November14325 to 37
Bird, Martin and Blamires, ErnestThe Shover uncoveredIdentifies a car driven by Elgar using photographs and entries in the Elgar diaries. The car, believed to be a Panhard et Lavassor, belonged to Alfred Rodewald and was nicknamed "The Shover" by Rodewald and August Jaeger.2005 November14339 to 44
Hodgkins, GeoffreyThe boon of far PeruIn 1903, Elgar asked August Jaeger to send a postcard to Alfred Rodewald with the question: “What is the boon of far Peru?” It is unclear whether the source of the quote is a poem by Richard Barham (Thomas Ingoldsby) or the musical play The orchid , by Lionel Monckton.2005 November14345 to 47
Green, EdwardSir Edward Elgar, master of rhythmThe music of Elgar receives an increasing amount of scholarly respect. His mastery of rhythm, however, is less widely appreciated. Analysis of his music, in particular the first symphony and Pomp and circumstance march no.1, reveals rhythmic drama and subtle syncopation which contribute greatly to the excitement of the music. Elgar was able to bring opposites together and to use unusual time signatures to great effect. A prime example of his rhythmic imagination can be found in the Angel’s Farewell from The Dream of Gerontius.2006 March14442125
Moody, CatherineThe sounds that Elgar heard. V [sic]: Elgar, Troyte Griffith and the geology of MalvernPrevious articles have shown how Elgar’s surroundings can be seen as a setting for his musical progress. Some of the correspondence between Elgar and Troyte Griffith gives clues to his interest in the geology of the Malvern area. Alice Elgar is known to have been interested in the subject and could well have passed on her enthusiasm to her husband. 2006 March14417 to 27
Neill, AndrewElgar in Smyrna, 1905: An addendumFollowing a recent visit to Istanbul, it is clear that, in spite of its great increase in size, the city and its surroundings would still be recognizable to a visitor of a century ago. The Turkish ambassador to Britain, during a visit to the Birthplace, noted that the piano piece In Smyrna conveyed the feeling of Izmir in the 1950s. The quiet atmosphere is at the centre of the memories which Elgar expressed in this piece. (Commentary on the article in 14/3)2006 March14428 to 29
Plant, MichaelIn memoriam: The Record Guide (1951 – 56)Although the final part of this valuable work is fifty years old, the reviews remain useful and interesting. The authors’ treatment of Elgar is of great interest from today’s perspective, particularly their discussion of the cello concerto long before it became a world-wide best seller.2006 March14430 to 31
Hollingsworth, Norma E.I believe in angels: The role and gender of the angels in The Dream of GerontiusThe belief in angels was absorbed by the early tribes of Israel from surrounding nations and was inherited by the Christian faith. In order to describe spirit beings, they began to be pictured in human form. In writing The Dream of Gerontius , Newman assumed his angels to be male, in line with the theological thinking of the times. Elgar’s angels, however, are both male and female, for practical musical reasons and in order to depict the character of the angels. The music of the Guardian Angel is tender and gentle, therefore womanly. In this work, Elgar took the courageous step of moving away from the stereotypical masculine image of angels.2006 July1455 to 13
Smith, RichardElgar, Dot and the Stroud connection (Part 1)Stroud in Gloucestershire has a connection with Elgar through his sister, Helen Agnes, known to the family as Dot. A retiring child, Dot wanted to become a nun from an early age, but stayed at home to look after her mother. She also became book keeper for the Elgar music shop. In 1902 she entered St. Rose’s Convent in Stroud. Her correspondence with Elgar continued throughout the rest of his life. She held several offices there, including that of Music Mistress, and in 1919 was appointed Mother General of the five linked convents of St. Rose. Following a serious illness, she was relieved of these duties in 1925, and continued in devoted service until her death in 1939.2006 July14514 to 20
Hodgkins, GeoffreyEverything I can lay my hands on: Elgar's theological library. IIBy the time of the first performance of The Apostles , Elgar had already done a great deal of work on what was to become The Kingdom . As before, he consulted a wide variety of books to assist his compilation of the libretto from many passages in scripture. Some of the books in his library also show that he had begun working on the unfinished third oratorio The Last Judgement . The scope of his collection shows that we can count theology as one of Elgar’s many interests, although his known impatience with organized religion means that we cannot assume agreement with the views expressed in the books. 2006 July1455 to 13
Smith, RichardElgar, Dot and the Stroud connection (Part 2)A continuation of the article in 14/5.2006 November1465 to 13
Rushton, JulianThe A.T. Shaw lecture, 2006: Elgar, Kingdom , and empireThe German title of The Kingdom is Das Reich , a word usually translated as "Empire". Discussion of the different meanings of these words gives rise to thoughts about Elgar’s oratorios. In the music, the Kingdom of God is seen as being on earth and the compositions reflect Elgar’s changes in attitude towards religion and his resignation in looking to the future.2006 November14615 to 26
Bennett, SylviaThe enigma of a variation: The story of the "Dorabella bequest". I: The Sheffield Elgar Society and the Royal College of MusicThe Sheffield and District Elgar Society existed from 1950 until 1983. In 1952 Carice Elgar Blake was president and Dora Powell one of the vice presidents. When "Dorabella" died in 1962, she left a collection of Elgarian materials to the Society. More recently, the location of the bequest was unknown. Research in the Sheffield Archive showed that the material, possibly somewhat depleted, was now at the Royal College of Music, as Dorabella had wished. The collection includes diaries, proof copies of some Elgar works, and the manuscript of The shepherd’s song. The inscriptions and dedication are puzzling. (Part II appears in 15/1)2006 November14627 to 32
Newbould, BrianElgar and "his ideal", SchumannElgar is known to have admired Schumann. Study of each composer’s piano quintets, in particular, shows signs of a strong influence, which is backed up by biographical information.2006 November14633 to 40
Plant, MichaelA view of Elgar from the past: The Edwardians , by J.B. PriestleyIn 1970, towards the end of Priestley’s career, he published an illustrated book entitled The Edwardians . It is a useful account of life in England when Elgar’s powers were at their peak. It includes coverage of political reform, women’s suffrage, the loss of the Titanic, the Great War, as well as music and theatre. His admiration for Elgar shows in his perceptive comments about the music and Elgar’s contemporaries.2006 November14641 to 43
Blunnie, RoisinA high-Victorian spyglass: Scenes from the saga of King Olaf and late nineteenth century British idealismLongfellow’s Saga of King Olaf contains 22 episodes and required considerable abridgement to turn it into a manageable libretto. Harry Arbuthnot Acworth worked with Elgar but it is difficult to know how much influence he had in the editing process. Some material was considered unsuitable for audiences and was left out completely, resulting in the sanitisation of Olaf himself; other scenes were re-written. The result is a piece which reflects the prevailing attitudes of the time. Musically and as an historical document it is a work of great worth.2007 March1515 to 14
Norris, David OwenThe seas of separation: The mythic archetype behind Elgar's songs, with a performer's analysis of Sea picturesThere are several theories concerning the emotional roots of Elgar’s songs. His concern with the hidden meaning explains his habit of changing the original words. Elgarians may be too ready to believe that his music reflects incidents in his life, but studying Sea pictures gives rise to the theory that the songs are connected with Helen Weaver, his lost love.2007 March15115 to 30
Bennett, SylviaTouching snow: The story of the "Dorabella bequest". II: The riddle of The shepherd's songThe Dorabella bequest held at the Royal College of Music contains the MS of The shepherd’s song . The dedication is puzzling, as it has been heavily crossed out. Research shows that the song was dedicated to Mary Frances Baker, a friend of the Elgar’s who later married Dora Penny’s father. It is possible that "Minnie" Baker crossed out the dedication herself, in an effort to conceal details of her friendship with Elgar.2007 March15131 to 37
Jones, PatrickFrom the desk of a cellist: Symphony no. 2Elgar’s second symphony is not undertaken lightly by an amateur orchestra, so the Manchester Beethoven Orchestra’s rehearsals provided valuable opportunities to learn the music thoroughly. After initial doubts, the final movement, in particular, reconciled the orchestra to this music and enabled the musicians to enjoy playing it.2007 March15139 to 42
Plant, MichaelIn search of Fritz KreislerThe career of Fritz Kreisler is of interest to Elgarians as he was the dedicatee of the violin concerto. Unfortunately he recorded none of Elgar’s music. He was a child prodigy and, after beginning medical studies, became a traveling virtuoso. He settled permanently in America in 1939. One wonders how good a recording of the violin concerto he might have made, given his age and technical abilities at the time when this might have been possible. He has, however, left a marvellous legacy of recordings and will be remembered for as long as fine violin playing is valued.2007 March15143 to 46
The Gerontius panels in Westminster CathedralArgues that two marble panels flanking the Chapel of the Holy Souls at the Westminster Cathedral relate to The Dream of Gerontius. The left-hand panel celebrates Gerontius, whose story reflects the upward surge of the purified soul from Purgatory to Heaven. The right-hand panel links the stave with the cross and with a ladder symbolising the soul’s ascent, thus making an anagogical equivalent of The Dream. Where elements intersect, a point of light represents, so to speak, a spiritual spark. The route upward, via the ladder (perseverance) and the stave (art), produces a number of these flashes of illumination; but the route of greatest illumination is through the ladder, stave, and cross together, i.e. Perseverance, Art and Faith.2007 July1525
McBrien, DavidA visit to "The Hut"Elgar was a frequent visitor to this house in Bray, Berkshire and frequently used the detached music room. The house and its surroundings are now very different to those days in which the house was owned by Frank Schuster. In 1926 the name was changed to "The long white cloud" by its New Zealander tenant. Later the house was the childhood home of Stirling Moss. The music room has been demolished and seven houses now stand on the original plot. Very few photos exist showing Elgar at "The Hut" but three have appeared in published works. (Additional information concerning the photographs appears in November 2007, 15/3)2007 July1527 to 18
Gleaves, Ian BeresfordElgar and WagnerElgar was one of many composers influenced by Wagner. One important similarity between the two is that they were both largely self taught; another is that they were both complete masters of harmony and orchestration. In spite of Elgar’s documented admiration for Wagner, he managed to retain his own individuality, although there are instances where the influence can be heard.2007 July15219 to 26
Reynolds, Arthur S.Elgar and JoachimThe violinist Joseph Joachim accumulated many accolades during his life. Elgar and Joachim were both frequent guests at Edward and Antonia Speyer’s house parties. Elgar gave to his niece, May Grafton, a discarded string from Joachim’s violin, describing it as "a precious relic". Elgar was believed by his violin teacher to have the makings of a very good violinist, but after hearing Joachim play Elgar decided his own tone was inadequate. Joachim, venerated as a performer, was also revered as the last great musician of the German Romantic style. He was primarily responsible for bringing this style to Britain, thereby influencing the music of Elgar and others of his generation.2007 July15227 to 52
Hodgkins, GeoffreyThe BBC and the Elgar centenaryA composer’s reputation is often at its lowest around the time of the centenary of his birth. In 1957 the centenary was largely marked by BBC radio, with talks and concerts including The Kingdom, which had fallen into neglect. Many major and some lesser known pieces were performed during May and June; given the reputation of Elgar at the time, the coverage was extremely generous.2007 July15253 to 57
Ghuman, NaliniThe third "E": Elgar and EnglishnessElgar’s music has long been seen as expressing "Englishness". This has prevented it from being played abroad, except for individual efforts by a small number of musicians. This nationalistic rhetoric must be abandoned if the music is to take its rightful place in the international repertoire.2007 November1535 to 12
Lyle, AndrewWhen I was at the lunatic asylum...: Elgar at Powick 1879–1884Powick Lunatic Asylum was notable for its humane regime, including the provision of music and dancing. Close examination of the records reveals details of the entertainments and activities. Elgar was engaged at Powick for six years, conducting the band and composing music. Additional sketches have recently come to light, causing one to wonder how much more may have been lost. Future publication in the Elgar Complete Edition will show how these compositions helped Elgar develop as a composer.2007 November15313 to 28
Hooey, Charles A.Clarity for MurielSince the publication of the article about Muriel Foster in the Elgar Society Journal 13/1 (Mar 2003), new information has been provided, filling in gaps and correcting facts concerning her second and third visits to America.2007 November15329 to 32
The fifteenth variation: A portrait of Edward Elgar. Transcript of a BBC broadcast (12 May 1957)In Elgar’s centenary year, the BBC broadcast a programme presented by Alec Robertson. This transcript contains the contributions of Carice Elgar Blake and May Grafton; Julius Harrison and Sir Percy Hull; Sir Barry Jackson; Astra Desmond and Sir Steuart Wilson; Lady Hamilton Harty; Yehudi Menuhin; Harriet Cohen; Sir Adrian Boult and Bernard Shore; Sir Compton Mackenzie; Sir Arthur Bliss; Dr. Ralph Vaughan Williams.2007 November15333 to 44
McBrien, DavidRevisiting "The Hut"A continuation of the article in 15/2.2007 November15345 to 46
Rushton, JulianElgar and academe: Dent, Forsyth, and what is English music? (Part 1)Edward J. Dent’s essay on English music in Guido Adler’s Handbuch der Musikgeschichte (1924, 2nd ed. 1930) contains views which caused a furore among Elgar’s friends and admirers. He considered Parry and Stanford in detail, but other composers received less attention. Dent’s work follows the chronological pattern of Cecil Forsyth in his History of music , some of which is inaccurate. Forsyth’s writing on Elgar is often dismissive and he bends biological chronology to suit his admiration for Parry and Stanford.2008 March15427 to 32
Neill, AndrewDame Janet Baker's Sea picturesThe London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Elgar Society co-operated in a concert of Elgar’s music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Elgar’s death. The concert, on 23rd February 1984, was a great success and was broadcast by Capital Radio. One of the items was Janet Baker singing Sea Pictures and it is this recording which appears in the LPO boxed set reviewed in the November 2007 issue of the Journal. In the absence of a master tape, Andrew Neill’s off-air recording was used for the set, with much improved sound.2008 March15415 to 16
Kelly, TomYorkshire light on the first symphonyThe Yorkshire critic Herbert Thompson (1856 to 1945) was present at the first performance of Elgar’s first symphony in December 1908 and at eight further performances the following year, all conducted by either Elgar or Richter. He kept detailed records of the timings of each movement, which allows comparison between the two conductors and with Elgar’s own recording.2008 March15417 to 25
Ling, JohnThe prehistory of Elgar's "Enigma"In March 1890, The Musical Times published an article which speaks of "enigmas and...dark sayings". It is possible that the unsigned article was written by Joseph Bennett, who had used the phrase "dark sayings" elsewhere. Both terms are familiar to Elgarians and both have Biblical antecedents. It is worth exploring the possibility that Elgar was aware of these terms before he came to write the Enigma variations and quoted them in the knowledge that Bennett would appreciate the joke.2008 July1558 to 10
Hodgkins, GeoffreyAndrew Neill: a tribute to the retiring ChairmanAndrew Neill joined the Elgar Society in 1966. Since his initial election to the London Branch committee, leading to his becoming the Society’s Chairman in 1992, he has made an enormous contribution to the work of the Society. In particular he has facilitated an impressive number of recordings of Elgar’s music and was largely responsible for resurrecting the publication of the Elgar Complete Edition. 2008 July15511 to 16
Boutwood, DuncanGerontius as ammunition? A newly discovered letterA handwritten letter from Novello & Co. to the critic Herbert Thomson was found in a miniature score of The Dream of Gerontius . In it, Henry R. Clayton explains that the plates used to produce the miniature scores were in Germany a few days before war was declared and had probably been used for making ammunition. Fortunately, these fears were unfounded.2008 July15517 to 20
Golding, WilliamByron Adams's "Dark saying": A critical responseA response to an earlier article2008 July15520
Rushton, JulianElgar and academe: Dent, Forsyth, and what is English music? (Part 2)Edward J. Dent’s essay on English music in Guido Adler’s Handbuch der Musikgeschichte (1924, 2nd ed. 1930) was written with a German readership in mind. Dent implies that Elgar’s music is not ‘academic’ in the strict sense, yet at the same time dismisses the chamber music as ‘academic’ and ‘dry’. His contradictory writing seems to complain about powerful emotions in Elgar’s music while ignoring the strong appeal of such music to English ears. Part 1 appears in 15/4.2008 July15521 to 28
Norris, JohnTales from the complete edition, or, What did Elgar write?Elgar’s orchestration of his work With proud thanksgiving has been recorded, but the original military band arrangement seemed not to have been performed. A collection of Elgar’s arrangements in the British Library includes separate arrangements of the work for brass and military bands, but these are in the hand of Frank Winterbottom. It appears that Elgar wrote only the short score, leaving Novello to commission a full arrangement.2008 November15616 to 17
Nolan, LucyPeople and places behind Elgar’s violin concerto (Elgar Society Prize)Various people and places influenced Elgar in his composition of the concerto; their inspiration and assistance was of great importance. A reprint of the Elgar Society Prize essay.2008 November15618 to 24
Riddle, EmilyElgar’s cello concerto, a personal response (Elgar Society Prize)It is almost impossible to communicate the feelings of beauty and sadness aroused by playing this work. To play such music, it is necessary to be more than merely an instrumentalist. Many great players have contributed to the history of the music. A reprint of the Elgar Society Prize essay.2008 November15625 to 30
Payne, AnthonyThe 2008 A.T. Shaw lecture: Completing the Crown of IndiaAs part of Elgar’s 150th anniversary season, the Elgar Society commissioned Anthony Payne to reorchestrate those parts of Crown of India that survive only in a piano reduction. Elgar wrote the music for a masque to celebrate the 1911 Durbar; the libretto was by Henry Hamilton. Elgar arranged a suite for orchestra, but reorchestrating the remainder involved Payne in making difficult decisions.2008 November1569 to 15
Foreman, LewisPicturing Elgar and his contemporaries as conductors: Elgar conducts at LeedsThe only illustrations of Elgar conducting in his prime are sketches in local newspapers, particularly those made during the Leeds Festivals. Viewing these against illustrations of earlier conductors allows an appreciation of Elgar’s technique and charisma. Once photography became the norm, postcards, although popular, were generally portraits. It was only after the Great War that conductors were photographed posing with the baton.2008 November15631 to 46
Halls, StevenLet beauty awake: British Library symposiumThis symposium was held in November 2008 to consider the influences of literature on Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Speakers included Hugh Cobbe, Stephen Johnson, Michael Kennedy, and David Owen Norris. Richard Hickox, the Elgar Society’s president, spoke about conducting British music. The memory of this is made the more poignant as it was only 24 hours before his sad and untimely death.2009 March1616 to 8
Crowther, Anne L.Alfred Rodewald and the Liverpool Orchestral SocietyElgar’s friend Alfred Rodewald was an early conductor of the People’s Orchestral Society. The orchestra included a number of professionals who were not paid for their performances with the society. After the change of name in 1890, Rodewald worked to improve the orchestra. Music performed included the premieres of Elgar’s first two Pomp and circumstance marches. After Rodewald’s death in 1903 he was replaced by Granville Bantock until the orchestra was disbanded in 1909.2009 March1619 to 14
Hunt, DonaldElgar and the Three Choirs FestivalThe young Elgar regularly played violin in the Three Choirs orchestra in Worcester. The relatively low standard of much of the music performed may have fired his ambition to write music more worthy of such a festival. His first commission was for the 1890 festival. He wrote the overture Froissart , but this was not taken up by other orchestras and it was some years before a choral work, The Light of life , was commissioned. He became a great influence on the festival in spite of writing so few works specifically for it.2009 March16115 to 26
Marshall, ArthurAn unusual view of ElgarAn anecdote relates that one of Elgar’s favourite recordings was of Cecily Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert. It is amusing to think of the great Elgar enjoying the same music that the author often played in his youth.2009 March16127 to 29
Foreman, LewisElgar and Cowen’s fifthThe second movement of Frederic Cowen’s symphony reminds the listener of the textures in Elgar’s The Wand of youth . Is it likely that Elgar heard, or even played, this symphony?2009 March16131 to 32
Smith, MikeFriends revisited: An edition of Elgar Birthplace EB722EB722 is Elgar’s MS draft of notes for inclusion in the player to piano rolls of Enigma variations. Comparisons between these notes and the booklet My friends pictured within show marked differences. The notes and commentaries printed on the rolls themselves are difficult to read accurately and there are questions as to when the notes were written. Study of all these sources, and the various accounts of them, affects our hearing and understanding of the variations.2009 July1625 to 21
Freed, StuartElgar in BirminghamThe first major Elgar work to be performed in Birmingham was The Black Knight in 1895. In the following years his music was often heard there, including several first performances and commissions for the long to established Birmingham Festival. In 1905 he gave the first of a series of rather controversial lectures at Birmingham University as the first Peyton Professor of Music. He resigned in 1908 but continued his connection with the city by writing music which included The Apostles and The Kingdom. 2009 July16223 to 36
Weir, John S.I scramble through things orchestrally: Did Elgar really dislike the piano?During Elgar’s lifetime the piano was at the centre of domestic music making and the Elgar family business. It is therefore surprising that he wrote so little for the piano and it has become widely believed that he disliked it. This view probably originated from the fact that Elgar disparaged composers who wrote their orchestral works at the piano; he also complained of the need to provide piano transcriptions of orchestral works. His reluctance to write for the instrument may have stemmed from what he saw as his own shortcomings as a pianist.2009 July16237 to 44
Maidment, TedSummer repose: The Elgar birthplace statueJemma Pearson’s sculpture of Elgar, commissioned by the Elgar Society, is now installed in the garden of the birthplace. It shows Elgar, aged about 40, sitting on a seat in a relaxed pose and looking out over the Malvern Hills.2009 November1637 to 8
Bird, MartinMusic in Worcester, 1860–1890Worcester had a thriving cultural life in the 1860s to 1880s, although some years were better than others, and some venues were less than ideal. The young Elgar took part in many activities promoted by local musical organizations. Historical and recent photographs show the fate of some former musical venues.2009 November1639 to 32
Drysdale, JohnA matter of willsExamination of four wills sheds new light on the Elgars’ financial circumstances. Two of the wills are those of Alice Elgar’s mother and Alice’s aunt, Emma Raikes; they show that Alice gave up a great deal in marrying Elgar, although it is not true that the aunt cut her out completely. Alice’s and Edward’s wills provide details of their relatively small estates.2010 March1645 to 8
Burrows, DonaldI feel that what I saw is really worthless: Elgar and the Chapel Royal part-booksWhen Elgar was appointed Master of the King’s Music, most of the functions were ceremonial and concerned practical music making. There was, however, some responsibility for the King’s Music Library, deposited at the British Museum. Elgar was involved in assessing a large collection of music which was no longer used at the Chapel Royal. After much correspondence and many delays, the music was added to the collection which is now in the British Library.2010 March1649 to 22
Walters, FrankSome memories of ElgarFrank Walters was the son of a Malvern contemporary of Elgar. He remembers walking with Elgar and visiting London for Menuhin’s recording sessions for the violin concerto. His daughter adds her grandfather’s memories of Elgar talking about the "secret" of the Enigma variations .2010 March16423 to 27
Neill, AndrewAll at sea: Elgar, Kipling and The Fringes of the fleetIn November 1917, Kipling withdrew his assent for the continued performance of Elgar’s settings of his poems. It is generally accepted that the main cause for this decision was the death of Kipling’s son John, but examination of the background to the songs suggests additional reasons. 2010 March16429 to 35
Norris, John and Moore, Jerrold NorthropTales from the complete edition. II: The Starlight ExpressThe publication of this volume of the Elgar Complete Edition has taken much longer than expected to produce. Initial work showed that much greater co-ordination of the music with the original play was needed in order to produce as accurate a version as possible. This proved to be complicated and time consuming, but the finished product justifies the extra effort.2010 March16436 to 44
Bird, MartinHarleyford: Precursor of HoffnungThe Harleyford Musical Festival was a spoof programme concocted by Elgar for house guests at the 1909 Hereford Musical Festival. One of the items refers to the heckelphone, an instrument included in the orchestra for Delius’s Dance rhapsody to be performed in Hereford, and also to Delius’s wallet being stolen.2010 March16445 to 46
Harvey, BrianElgar’s will: Further enigmasStudy of Elgar’s will seems to show his contradictory nature, and raises questions about the copyright status of some material. Contrary to Elgar’s predictions, the value of performing rights and other income was of greater benefit to his heirs than was formerly supposed.2010 July1653 to 6
Reynolds, ArthurThe King and the troubadour: Edward VII & Edward ElgarComparison of the lives of Elgar and Edward VII show that they had much in common, and that they each reached their peak at around the same time. After the King’s death, Elgar continued to respect George V but bemoaned his apparent lack of taste in music.2010 July1657 to 34
Langfield, ValerieA young friend of Elgar: Alban Claughton (1876–1969)Alban Claughton was the grandson of the first Bishop of St. Albans. Elgar knew and encouraged him, and later commended him to Dr. Charles Buck when he moved to Giggleswick. In later life, Claughton befriended many musicians, especially Roger Quilter, from whom he inherited an important collection of MSS and scores.2010 July16535 to 40
Norris, John Tales from the complete edition. III: Hope and glory ? It’s the Pitt’sProduction of a complete edition throws up several dilemmas, particularly when full scores were uncompleted or lost. Inclusion of subsequent "completions" depends on how much original material has been used. Research into the existence of orchestral parts can lead to other discoveries, for example Elgar’s orchestration of the hymn tune Darwell.2010 July16541 to 46
Kay, RobertProlegomena to the Acuta Music King Arthur suiteElgar's incidental music for Laurence Binyon's play, Arthur: A tragedy , is the last unpublished Elgar work of any consequence. The publication of a full orchestral version of the suite from the incidental music makes a practical amount of the music available for concert performance.2010 July16547 to 49
Norris, JohnTales from the complete edition. IV: "It isnae her" - Elgar, women and songElgar’s feelings for various women are reflected in much of his music, particularly his solo songs. His wife, Alice, provided words for several songs, and singers such as Muriel Foster were also sources of inspiration. In 1930 he set It isnae me , by Sally Holmes; the romantic inspiration appears to have been Joan Elwes, the soprano who premiered the song.2010 November16641395
Rushton, JulianElgar and academe. III: Grove and ToveyDonald Tovey, well known for his musical analysis, was principally a musician. His admiration for Elgar’s music shows in his writings, which began as programme notes for the orchestral concerts at the University of Edinburgh. The two were on cordial terms, and Elgar conducted the LSO at Tovey’s first public performance of the Brahms B flat concerto.2010 November16615 to 20
Mitchell, KevinElgar and HampsteadElgar lived at Severn House in Hampstead from 1912 to 1921. Designed by Norman Shaw, it provided an impressive London base for the Elgars and was visited by many famous musicians. World War I had an impact on their time in London and Elgar still longed for the countryside.2010 November16621 to 31
Newton, CarlMassive hope: A historian’s view of Elgar’s first symphonyThe symphony received over 80 performances in its first year, but very few by 1911. It has been suggested that the national mood affected the popularity of the work, but this is not necessarily the case. Comparison shows that subsequent major works were also well received, in spite of Elgar’s assumptions.2010 November16632 to 43
Kay, RobertThe full orchestral score of the Severn suiteElgar’s manuscript full score of his orchestration of the Severn Suite has been missing since the 1970s. It has now re-appeared and has been added to the Elgar MSS in the British Library.2010 November16644 to 46
Norris, JohnTales from the complete edition. V: A Pageant of EmpireThere is much confusion over the number of songs included in this work. The "Pageant" was a cultural epic, lasting three days, which took place in Wembley Stadium, and included historical tableaux and music specially written by many composers. Of Elgar’s music, the Empire march is best known, while most of the songs are largely unperformed. Various listings and sources have been used to determine which songs were intended for this event. Most of the orchestral material has not been traced and it is probable that some accompaniments were never written.2011 April1714 to 14
Rushton, JulianTales from the complete edition. VI: Music for stringsVolume 24 of the Complete Edition contains Elgar’s music for string orchestra. The sketches for Sospiri indicate that it was intended as part of the slow movement of a longer piece for violin and piano. Parts of the Serenade appear to have originally been drafted for string quartet.2011 April17115 to 17
Allen, KevinA letter and a poem unmasked: Two documents from John Bridcut's film Elgar: The man behind the maskIn 1931 Elgar met Vera Hockman, a violinist, and they became very close. After Elgar’s death, Vera wrote a letter to Elgar recalling their relationship. The other item in question is an untitled poem by Alice Elgar beginning Thy love doth fade. As it is undated, the reason for writing it is unclear, but it illustrates the quality of some of her writings, which should be studied further.2011 April17118 to 21
Bird, MartinA very good idea at the time: Sir Edward Elgar - Principal conductor, London Symphony OrchestraIn 1911 Elgar was appointed as Principal Conductor of the LSO, one of several distinguished guest conductors. After initial success, the appointment did not end well, and he was not re-engaged for the 1913/14 season. No correspondence has been preserved, but there are enough primary sources to enable a comprehensive picture to emerge.2011 April17122 to 36
Lloyd, StephenDid Elgar achieve a century?It has often been stated that Elgar’s first symphony received about 100 performances during its first year. Various writers have identified up to 82 during 1909. It has now been possible to identify 83 performances within a year of the December 1908 premiere, and there may be at least three others, but it seems unlikely that the figure will reach 100.2011 April17137 to 40
Bird, MartinElgar and the man who punched tickets at Worcester Railway Station: The Elgar Society, 1951 to 2011The first formal meeting of The Elgar Society was held in January 1951, but it was not until 1973 that a newsletter was first produced. Many personal recollections of people who knew Elgar have been printed, but as these now approach a natural end it has been suggested that the journal may eventually need to publish items on such subjects as Worcester’s ticket collector. In fact, it should be noted that there is a significant amount of material available covering the Elgars’ relationships with railways.2011 August1724 to 6
Neill, AndrewAn infinite variety of things: Elgar’s second symphony - Disappointment and triumph: A listener’s celebrationThis quotation by Ernest Newman shows that the second symphony is full of new expressions of Elgar’s personal thoughts. It is well known that the première in 1911 was received with little enthusiasm. One reason for this may be that times and the mood of the nation were changing rapidly, with an uneasy industrial environment, worsening relations within Europe, and the coronation of a new monarch. Music itself was also changing, but the symphony’s time would come later, and inspire successive generations of listeners.2011 August1727 to 23
Rushton, JulianSymphony no. 2: The musicThe symphony is well known and loved, but further study of the music and its context may allow some new ideas to be formulated. The outline of the work is more conventional than that of the first symphony, but the ideas within it are of marked originality. Comparison with works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Berlioz can shed new light on certain passages.2011 August17224 to 29
Ker, IanNewman and The Dream of GerontiusJohn Henry Cardinal Newman was one of the outstanding geniuses of the 19th century. He was not only a theologian but a challenging thinker, who professed not to know how the idea of the poem, The Dream of Gerontius , came to him. It constitutes his most extended writing on the afterlife and conjures up marvellous images, suggesting that we should envy Gerontius, rather than pity him. Although relatively minor compared with Elgar’s treatment, it became one of the most widely read literary works on the subject.2011 August17230 to 32
Bird, MartinTroyte Griffith and the Philosopher’s stone, or, The Hogwash ExpressIn 1933 Elgar was requested, by Walter E. Koons, to contribute to a book entitled The mystery of music. Elgar declined, but Koons, having received contributions from many well to known composers, asked Yehudi Menuhin’s father Moshe to intercede. Elgar therefore provided a short quotation purporting to come from a philosopher who, in reality, was his architect friend Arthur Troyte Griffith. The book was eventually published in 1976.2011 August17233 to 35
Kay, RobertGerald Lawrence, Elgar and the missing Beau Brummel musicIn 1928, Elgar received a request from actor to manager Lawrence to supply music for a play by Bertram P. Matthews entitled Beau Brummel. The first performance received considerable press coverage and the play was toured around the U.K. and South Africa. It is unclear whether the manuscript full score was returned to Elgar and it was thought lost. The discovery in 2006 of the minuet, leads to speculation that the remainder, possibly more substantial than previously believed, could have been given to a colleague for editing and may yet be found.2011 December1734 to 28
Bird, MartinElgar and Rosa NewmarchRosa Newmarch was a writer and translator who championed numerous contemporary composers, including Sibelius and Janáček. Her working relationship with Elgar included writing detailed programme notes, and he set several of her poems. Their correspondence enables the compilation of a fuller description of their collaborations than has previously been available.2011 December17329 to 40
Saremba, Meinhard...unconnected with the schools: Edward Elgar and Arthur SullivanSullivan and Elgar are often regarded as successive composers with no relationship to each other. In fact they had a high regard for each other and had more in common than is usually realised; for example, neither felt part of the academic scene of the times, both used unusual colours in their orchestral music, wrote music full of wit and humour, and both stood apart from organised religion.2012 April1744 to 23
Neill, AndrewThe Empire bites back: Reflections on Elgar’s "imperial masque" of 1912Attitudes to the British Empire have changed over the years, and a rational approach is important when looking at music such as Crown of India . Far from being an embarrassing work, it can now be seen as an "occasional" piece which is worth hearing. Study of the work itself is helped greatly by understanding the cultural, political and royal issues which formed the background both to the commissioning of the work and the royal visit to India in 1911.2012 April17424 to 41
Bird, Martin…you are on the golden stair: Elgar and Elizabeth Lynn LintonThe writer Eliza Lynn was born in 1822, became the first salaried woman journalist in England and was a well known novelist and pioneer of women's suffrage. In 1894 she moved to Malvern where she met the Elgars and became convinced of Elgar’s genius. She was a staunch supporter at a critical time in Elgar’s development as a composer. 2012 April17442 to 47
Allen, KevinResearching the Norbury papers, or, One thing leads to anotherThe Norbury family papers were kept at Sherridge, the house which Elgar depicted in the Enigma variations . Study of these led to a number of other discoveries, among which were new information on the foundation of the Worcester Philharmonic Society, and details of Elgar’s association with the Martin family of Ham Court and with Hugh Blair.2012 August17546113
Norris, JohnTales from the complete edition. VII. Going for a songThe aim of the Complete Edition is to produce an edited score which corresponds as precisely as possible to Elgar’s final wishes. This has proved unusually challenging for the two forthcoming volumes: the solo songs for which Elgar provided orchestral accompaniment, and the first volume of those with piano accompaniment. One particular problem was finding orchestral parts which allegedly existed for the song Pleading ; the arrangement was eventually found to be for small orchestra only.2012 August17527 to 32
Bird, MartinOh - Praise the Lord!Elgar’s setting of Psalm 48, Great is the Lord , was dedicated to Joseph Armitage Robinson, Dean of Westminster from 1902 to 1911. He and Elgar met in Italy, and Elgar subsequently asked his advice on the words for The Kingdom . 2012 August17533 to 37
Bird, MartinThoughts on The Music Makers – a conductor’s viewpointThe Music Makers was first performed in October 1912. It was a success with choral societies throughout England, though there have been relatively few performances at the Three Choirs Festival. Elgar’s markings are very detailed, and his phrasing must be followed to preserve the interpretation of the text. This work is central to a full understanding of Elgar’s personality.2012 December1764 to 12
Bird, MartinReactions to The Music MakersSurprisingly few letters of congratulation on this work have been preserved, but it is possible to gauge a variety of reactions of Elgar’s friends from their writings elsewhere. Nicholas Kilburn, the dedicatee, was particularly pleased by the music. 2012 December17613 to 15
Harcup, JohnEdward Elgar – a medical enigma?Elgar’s health has been the subject of much discussion and has been viewed by some as a hypochondriac. There is evidence, however, of real medical problems which recurred throughout his life, particularly tonsillitis. His mood swings can partly be explained by his artistic temperament, and the fact that his physical symptoms threatened to affect his music making. 2012 December17616 to 31
Bird, MartinHugh Blair and Great is the LordDuring his time as organist at Worcester Cathedral, Blair encouraged Elgar to complete several of his early major works. After he moved to London the association continued, including a performance of Great is the Lord at Blair’s church.2012 December17632 to 35
Smith, RichardJulia Worthington – the Elgars’ American friendJulian Hedden Worthington was born in 1857 in New York City and became a friend to many artists and composers, as well as to European nobility. She met the Elgars on a transatlantic liner in 1905 and they became close friends, meeting on several occasions in England, America and Italy. Julia died in 1913, a cause of great sadness to the Elgars.2013 April1814 to 15
Kelly, TomRedeeming the second symphonyProgramme notes invariably mention the cool reception originally given to this symphony. There are, however, several reasons why this may have been so, and it should not be assumed that it was a failure. The less than enthusiastic reaction had more to do with the circumstances of the time than with the quality of the music. 2013 April18116 to 20
Gough, MartinVariations on a canonical theme – Elgar and the enigmatic traditionFive months after the première of his Variations Op.36, Elgar expressed surprise that Dora Penny had not guessed the solution to the ‘Enigma’. Many solutions have been proposed, but one line of enquiry is that the ‘enigma’ is a puzzle canon, something which many composers have used. This idea is supported by clues which have emerged from an unpublished sketch, but also gives rise to other questions about Elgar’s intentions.2013 April18121 to 34
Neill, AndrewLoving FalstaffElgar’s Falstaff is based on the character in Shakespeare’s historical plays, rather than The Merry Wives of Windsor . This shows more originality than other composers’ portrayals, but, along with the music’s complexity, may explain why Falstaff is not as well loved or frequently played as other works by Elgar. 2013 August1824 to 11
Rushton, JulianFalstaff : a modernist musical portraitIt has been suggested that Elgar was out of touch in the age of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, but evaluation of Falstaff shows that it is modernist within the context of his closer contemporaries and English music generally. In fact Elgar matched the modernist advances of Richard Strauss, who was younger.2013 August18212 to 18
Norris, JohnTales from the Complete Edition – 8: An unexpected coda to the four lost songsPreparation of Volume 15 highlighted a number of occasions when Elgar altered the words of poems for musical reasons. Further research unearthed a number of poems for which settings had not been identified. Two, in particular, were found in sketches of ‘King Olaf’ and have now been published under the titles Muleteer’s Serenade and The Mill Wheel . 2013 August18219 to 32
Kay, RobertThe Severn Suite: manuscripts music and mythsA brass band classic, The Severn Suite also exists in official transcriptions for orchestra, wind band, and organ. A number of incorrect assumptions have been made to the detriment of Elgar’s reputation; for example it has been suggested that the work was based mainly on recycled early sketches, and that he did not score the original version himself. After detailed inspection of the source material these assumptions can now be corrected and an accurate chronology compiled.2013 December1834 to 29
Mortensen, BrysonImperial propaganda and Caractacus: The woodlands and Elgar’s love of countryIn spite of its typical Elgarian music, Caractacus has not enjoyed the popularity of other works. This has been partly explained by its jingoistic character, but in fact it shows Elgar’s pride in the positive aspects of nationalism. The first in a series of articles concentrates on his love of the countryside as shown in the music. 2013 December18330 to 41
Sutton, PeterElgar’s religious beliefsSome commentators believe that Elgar never lost his religious faith, in spite of his ceasing to attend church services later in life. Others think that he did not retain a faith, but still had the capability to write convincing music with religious themes, and to show emotion when conducting it.2013 December18342 to 52
Collett, BarryElgar’s music for Powick AsylumThe music which Elgar wrote for the asylum was rescued from obscurity during the 1980s, when it was performed and subsequently recorded by the Rutland Sinfonia. The music, largely dance movements, shows the composer learning his craft. Later performances with professional orchestras led to a new recording being made in 2012. 2013 December18353 to 54
Greene, Lynn RichmondElgar’s dream childrenThe Elgars’ use of the initials A.W.B. in diaries has long been a mystery. Study of the diaries sheds new light on the Elgars’ marriage and suggests that Alice suffered more than one miscarriage after the birth of Carice. Such deep distress goes some way to explaining certain elements of their personalities.2014 April1844 to 25
Hunt, DonaldHerbert Sumsion – personal reminiscences of a remarkable musicianHerbert Sumsion was organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 to 1967, a role which involved him in the Three Choirs Festival. He had a special sympathy for the work of English composers and was particularly at home conducting Elgar’s oratorios, both through his friendship with Elgar and having witnessed the composer directing his own works. As a composer, he was part of the Vaughan Williams and Finzi traditions and counted them both as friends. He had a strong influence in Donald Hunt’s own career and passed on his knowledge of Elgar’s music.2014 April18426 to 39
Bird, MartinPowick peopleThe County and City of Worcester Pauper Lunatic Asylum opened in 1852 and from its early years exploited the benefits of music therapy. A series of musicians directed aspects of music making by the staff and Elgar was appointed Bandmaster in 1879. He resigned in 1884 but continued to support the music there.2014 April18440 to 47
Smith, Richard‘A sort of symphony in four divisions’: The Black Knight and its first performancesElgar had been toying with the idea of setting Longfellow’s poem since 1879, but work began in earnest in 1892, with the first performance taking place the following year. It was well received, but 18 months elapsed before further performances took place around the UK. 2014 August1854 to 20
Harrison, JuliusA personal reminiscence In 1960, the composer and conductor Julius Harrison gave a broadcast talk about his contacts with Elgar and his music. They first met in 1908 and became friends after Harrison conducted Starlight Express in 1915. Harrison recalls both Elgar’s sense of fun and his mysticism.2014 August18521 to 24
Mortensen, BrysonImperial propaganda and Caractacus: Chivalry, militarism and the multi-faceted character of Elgar’s British ArmyThis series of articles discusses various aspects of empire in Elgar’s Caractacus. The second concentrates on chivalry and militarism, taking into consideration the contemporary propaganda which attempted to show the British military in a similar positive light to that of medieval chivalry. The ideas and values of a chivalrous army and a refined commander run throughout the work. 2014 August18525 to 36
Neill, Andrew‘As if it was England singing’: Edward Elgar and Laurence Binyon in war and peaceThe relationship between Elgar and Binyon is an important one which lasted from 1901 to the composer’s death, even though the pieces they produced together are relatively modest. Many consider The Spirit of England to be Elgar’s most significant wartime work and he also composed ‘With proud thanksgiving’ and incidental music to the play Arthur. Elgar’s other works during this time were popular and largely escapist. Binyon is now known mainly for one verse (‘They shall grow not old…’), but Elgar’s fine setting looks forward to other composers’ work which came later.2014 December1864 to 26
Parris, George‘The tumult of thy mighty harmonies’: tonal conflict in Elgar’s ‘Four part-songs Op.53’These songs are the first complete compositions of what might be considered Elgar’s reinvigorated self, written in late 1907. It is necessary to analyse them to show how they adopt features of Austro-Germanic modernism. Elgar’s tonal imagination is shown particularly in ‘There is sweet music’ which is written in two key signatures – the women’s parts in A flat and the men’s in G. The conclusion is that these songs were conceived as an interlinked set in the same way as the four movements of a symphony.2014 December18627 to 39
Palmer, BenThe sound of Elgar’s orchestra: a study of early twentieth-century orchestral performance practiceWe tend to think of the modern orchestra as having been established in the late 19th century. With some honourable exceptions, the majority of period instrument performers have not concerned themselves with music from Elgar’s time. Thanks to the recordings made by that generation of composers, and some more recent performances, we have proof that although the orchestra looked much the same as it does now, the sound was markedly different.2015 April1914 to 14
Bird, MartinA lost masterpiece – the demise of King OlafIn spite of being an immediate success right from the premiere in 1896, King Olaf is now very rarely performed. The opposite is true of The Dream of Gerontius, yet the two works have much in common. One reason may be that we have the benefit of hindsight, which shows Gerontius to be ‘better’ than Olaf; another may be the libretto. Choral societies need to make sure of an audience; Olaf may no longer be an ideal choice, but it is still a great and pioneering masterpiece of English choral music.2015 April19115 to 23
Neill, AndrewMichael Kennedy CBE – a personal tributeMichael Kennedy was a man who used words to convey a love and understanding of music. He was not a trained musician but he was a man of music, an art which he communicated to countless people. In addition to his writing, he was supportive of societies such as those devoted to Elgar, Strauss and Vaughan Williams. Those who knew and loved him recognised in him honesty, humanity, humour and humility. Through his words, he will not be forgotten. 2015 April19124 to 29
Mortensen, BrysonImperial propaganda and Caractacus: Social Darwinism and Britain’s altruistic obligation. This is the third in a series of three articles discussing various aspects of empire in this work. Orbin’s evolution from savage to soldier confirms the British belief that the pursuit of Empire improved the lives of their new colonists, and is an example of the positive effects of Social Sarwinism and the altruism of British colonial expansion.2015 April19130 to 37
Bird, Martin‘A policeman’s lot…’: Elgar’s war serviceWithin a few days of the start of World War I, Elgar became a Special Constable for Hampstead, taking part in parades and other duties. He resigned in February 1915, then soon joined the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve, only to resign less than two months later.2015 August1925 to 24
Crump, KenEdward Elgar at Powick Mental HospitalMusic making for patients was part of the treatment at the hospital almost from the beginning and continued until its closure. Hospital records show administrative and financial details. Elgar was appointed as Bandmaster in 1879, conducting the staff band and composing music for dances; some of this music was found when the hospital closed and was first recorded under the direction of Barry Collett. 2015 August19225 to 30
Bird, Martin‘…the career of my father, the late Sir Henry Gee Roberts’: a Major-General in India The Dictionary of National Biography was first published in 1885. Alice Elgar provided notes for the entry concerning her father, which was written by Colonel Ernest March Lloyd. His article also notes that Sir Henry received ‘the thanks of Parliament for his services.’ 2015 August19231 to 36
Wiseman, EdElgar’s birds Elgar was at his happiest in the country, and one can see from various references that this love of the countryside extended to birds. By using historical sources it is possible to tell which species would have been known, and which were extinct, in the Worcester area in Elgar’s time. 2015 August19237 to 41
Mitchell, Kevin‘My tunes are ne’er forgotten’: Elgar, Blackwood and The Starlight ExpressElgar’s most substantial music for the theatre was that composed for the play The Starlight Express, an adaptation of Algernon Blackwood’s novel A Prisoner in Fairyland. The production, which was subject to various problems, was put together at very short notice, played for only a month, but contains some of Elgar’s most enchanting music.2015 December1934 to 26
Westwood-Brookes, RichardElgar the violin teacher: was it really such a bad life for him?It is generally accepted that Elgar disliked his role as a violin teacher, as most of his pupils showed no real talent. This, however, may not always have been the case, as a recently discovered series of letters shows. Reginald Bailey, a farmer’s son, showed real talent and the correspondence between Elgar, Reginald and his mother reveal Elgar’s pleasure that his pupil was developing into an excellent musician.2015 December19327 to 36
Adamson, PeterCost-cutting and cloth-cutting: Elgar’s 1916 Violin Concerto recording with Marie HallElgar’s Violin Concerto, conducted by the composer, was cut to fit just four single-sided 78 r.p.m. discs for Marie Hall’s 1916 recording. This seems ridiculous now, but the cost of the finished item had to be kept within reasonable bounds. There is, however, a question as to the order in which the discs should be played, as the catalogue and matrix numbers differ. One conclusion is that the disc containing the cadenza should be played last, as it may have been seen as an optional extra.2015 December19337 to 41
Bird, MartinMarie Hall: the Elgarian connectionMarie Hall was born in Newcastle in 1884, and moved to Malvern with her parents in 1894. She had some lessons with Elgar and later worked with him in performing and recording his Violin Concerto.
2015 December19342 to 46
Ling, John and Bird, MartinDiscovered: a letter from Alice Elgar – and more…A score of The Music Makers belonging to Charles Sanford Terry has been discovered which contains Elgar’s autograph with the comment ‘before ‘twas heard’. Pasted onto one page was a letter to Terry sent by Alice Elgar, thanking him for looking after her husband during the forthcoming first performance. Terry pasted the letter into the score and, at a later date, wrote an essay on the work on two blank pages. 2015 December19347 to 50
Allen, KevinIn praise of Worcestershire : Edward Elgar and Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, a Worcestershire man, was a dominant political figure in Britain during Elgar’s later years, serving as Prime Minister three times. He often spoke about the rural county and its spiritual influence, and both men loved and knew it well. Baldwin’s ashes rest in Worcester Cathedral, with his memorial tablet close to the Elgar memorial window.2016 April1944 to 16
Kay, RobertBeau Brummel: a postscript and a call to action As recounted in the Journal of December 2011, the full score of Elgar’s Beau Brummel has been lost for many years. A recently discovered letter throws light on the possible fate of the manuscript and it is believed that further investigation must be carried out to find it.2016 April19417 to 23
Lloyd-Jones, David and Norris, JohnTales from the Complete Edition – 9 : Short works, long histories In theory, the preparation of a volume of Elgar’s shorter orchestral works should have been quite straight-forward, but some unexpected discoveries increased the number of works from 14 to 18, including Air de ballet, previously thought to have been lost.2016 April19424 to 37
Smith, RichardFrank Schuster – Elgar’s patronFrank Schuster (1852-1927), who became a close friend of Elgar, devoted his life to supporting the arts. His home became a meeting place for artists, musicians and writers. He helped Elgar in many ways, including the instigation of the Elgar festival at the Royal Opera House in 1904.2016 August1954 to 18
Westwood-Brookes, RichardWho is the real soul of the Violin Concerto? This question has inspired much speculation over the years, centring on Alice Stuart Wortley and Julian Worthington. Research of correspondence and other records indicates that the true identity must be that of Julia Worthington.2016 August19519 to 25
Bianco, LinoTheology applied to music: The Dream of Gerontius revisitedStudy of The Dream of Gerontius makes it possible to chart the relationship of Newman’s poem to Elgar’s music and shows that the connection was not simply theological but poetical.2016 August19526 to 34
Morris, HughBach in Gerontius? A discussion In the two bars before figure 120 of The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar has used a cipher spelling BACH as the bass line. It has been suggested that this might have been a reflection of the German musical tradition compared to British musical culture. It is more likely that it refers to Elgar’s childhood and his drawing of a ‘Bach cross’.2016 August19535 to 38
Bird, Martin‘A confusion of ideas’ – Rootham, Elgar and For the fallen.In early 1915, Novello agreed to publish Cyril Rootham’s setting of Binyon’s poem For the fallen. At the same time, Elgar was beginning to compose settings for the three poems which comprise The Spirit of England. When Elgar discovered the clash, he told Rootham he would not proceed with the same poem. Subsequently he was persuaded to reconsider, causing a misunderstanding with Rootham.2016 August19539 to 52
Potter, TullyA much maligned cellist: The true story of Felix Salmond and the Elgar Cello Concerto Felix Salmond took part in early performances of Elgar’s chamber music and was the natural choice to advise on the cello concerto and to perform it at the première. Reports of the work being under-rehearsed fuelled stories of a critical ‘disaster’, but in reality the performance pleased the vast majority of the audience. After Salmond’s move to America he performed the concerto in New York in 1930.2016 December1964 to 18
Bird, MartinAn enduring friendship: Elgar and Joan Elwes Joan Elwes, an English soprano, first contacted Elgar in 1926 before singing in ‘For the Fallen’. The discovery of a collection of letters from Elgar sheds light on a friendship which lasted until Elgar’s death. The song ‘It isnae me’ was written for her.2016 December19619 to 39
Bird, MartinWho was Sally Holmes? On the music for Elgar’s song ‘It isnae me’, the poet is identified only as S.H. This was Sally Holmes, an aspiring novelist of whom little was known. Some family background is now available, along with four letters which she wrote to Elgar. 2016 December19640 to 44
Odefey, AlexanderEdward Elgar and Gustav Mahler: The possibility of an encounter (part one) Mahler and Elgar were close contemporaries. Both of them knew other famous composers, and the question arises as to whether they might have met. Detailed study of the places where they lived and worked shows that they came close to each other on a few occasions, but probably never actually met. Further investigation will look at the question of whether they were acquainted with each other’s music.2017 April2015 to 33
Allen, KevinFrom Keeper of the Archives to Keeper of the Flame: the ‘Dorabella’ bequest at the Royal College of Music (part one) Dora Powell’s personal collection of correspondence and other documents were deposited in the library of the Royal College of Music in 1986. The papers have remained largely unresearched until recently, but the letters have now been transcribed and provide insights into Elgar’s life and work. The bequest contains about 400 letters including many to and from a variety of musicians, writers, and Elgar’s friends and family. 2017 April20134 to 51
Sutton, PeterPiers Plowman – Elgar’s BibleElgar was familiar with the 14th century poem by William Langland. The content of the poem gives an insight into what Elgar was reading around the end of the 19th century, and there are possible connections with his music. 2017 August2023 to 16
Odefey, AlexanderEdward Elgar and Gustav Mahler: ‘who is virtually unknown in England’ (part two) Mahler and Elgar were close contemporaries. Both of them knew other famous composers, but it is very unlikely that they met. Detailed study of performances of both composers’ works allows an investigation as to whether they were acquainted with each other’s music. Comparisons may also be made between their musical works. 2017 August20217 to 37
Allen, KevinFrom Keeper of the Archives to Keeper of the Flame: the ‘Dorabella’ bequest at the Royal College of Music (part two) Further study of Dora Powell’s personal collection of correspondence reveals Dora’s views on other authors’ books about Elgar, and on some of the ‘solutions’ to the ‘enigma’ in the Variations. Her work on the revised version of her own book can also be traced through the correspondence.2017 August20238 to 55
Degott, PierreFrom Beethoven to Elgar: the representation of Christ on the English oratorio scene The representation of Christ in musical works was once a contentious issue in England. Early performances of Beethoven’s ‘Christus am Ölberge’ used various translations which circumvented a personal representation. Elgar knew the work very well, and the gradual changes in textual accuracy may have prepared the public for the smooth reception of Elgar’s own works depicting Christ.2017 December2034 to 23
Odefey, AlexanderEdward Elgar and Gustav Mahler: ‘the only man living who could do it’ (part three) Further investigation into the parallel lives of Elgar and Mahler reveals that little, if any, mention of Mahler was made by Elgar. Comparisons can be made between musical works in similar genres, such as the orchestral song cycles, and between ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. The conductors Frank and Walter Damrosch were among those who knew both composers. Their many performances of Elgar’s music in New York may have been heard by Mahler, who also conducted some works by Elgar.2017 December20324 to 51
Norris, JohnTales from the Complete Edition – 10: There but for the King’s appendix… This volume contains the ‘Coronation Ode’ and ‘Civic Fanfare’. Both works were written for specific occasions, and interesting facts have come to light whilst studying the chronology of manuscripts and performances. 2017 December20352 to 64
Gordon, ChristopherSalut d’Arányi – but con Sospiri? An Elgar letter fleshed out On 28th February 1920, Elgar wrote to the violinist Jelly d’Arányi confirming the arrangement for her to play at Severn House, his Hampstead home, the following day. The d’Arányi sisters were well-known Hungarian violinists who became British citizens but retained a contempt for snobbery. The relationship between Jelly d’Arányi and Elgar is explored in the context of the social conventions of the time.2018 April2113 to 31
Bird, MartinPeter Rabbit: The biography of an inspired bunny A white rabbit named Peter joined the Elgar family in 1905. He appears in numerous items of correspondence and is credited, as Pietro d’Alba, with writing the words for Elgar’s songs ‘The Torch’ and ‘The River’. Peter died in May 1910.2018 April21132 to 39
Firth, Martin Elgar and the ‘Englishness’ label There is a widely held belief that Elgar’s music epitomises Englishness. Many commentators have written on the subject, some supporting this view and others rejecting it. There is some evidence to show that the elusive character of a nation may be ingrained in its language which is absorbed into music. It may be that Elgar’s music sounds English because of various associations, but that does not constitute Englishness. The Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo believes that Elgar was a universal composer and that to praise Elgar for his Englishness diminishes him. 2018 April21140 to 54
Collett, BarryElgar abroad: an improving situation? There is a view that Elgar’s music is a closed book to many outside the UK. Musicians from other countries were among the first to rate his work highly, but his reputation suffered later on. Since the late 1960s there has been a significant revival in performances by international musicians, as evidenced by the number of concerts supported by Elgar in Performance. It is still important, however, to encourage the performance of a wider range of Elgar’s music.2018 April21155 to 56