Elgar Plays His Final Note on the High Street; Today Marks the End of 20 Years of British Composer Sir Edward Elgar Being Feat U Re D on Pounds 20 Bank Notes, Sparking Anger in Some Quarters. Reporter SARA NICHOL Examines Who Will Replace Him

Article excerpt

Byline: SARA NICHOL

THE decision to drop the face of musician Sir Edward Elgar from legal tender has been branded a "national disgrace" by some leading experts in the North East.

Jeremy Dibble, Professor in the Department of Music at Durham University, has hit out at the decision, labelling today as "a sad day for the arts".

The removal of Sir Elgar, who created the unofficial national anthem, Land of Hope and Glory, from circulation means the arts are no longer featured on any Bank of England notes.

The withdrawal of the notes will see Sir Elgar join North East-born engineer George Stephenson, whose face was removed from pounds 5 notes in 2003.

Prof Dibble said: "Land of Hope and Glory is one of the most stirring tunes ever composed and its composer, Edward Elgar, is an iconic figure and a fitting symbol of artistic inspiration in England.

"Dropping Elgar tells us much about the way in which the arts is now viewed in England. Bank notes should applaud the greatest aspects of England and English culture. The withdrawal of the Sir Edward Elgar pounds 20 note is a national disgrace as the arts will no longer be visible on our notes.

"The removal of writing and music in the shape of Shakespeare and Elgar on Bank of England notes makes our currency much less colourful; science and economics are important but so too are the arts. Why is it that the public are never consulted on these matters that are intrinsic to our culture?" From today Sir Elgar bank notes - which have been in circulation since 1999 - may be refused as a form of payment by retail outlets.

However, banks, building societies and Post Offices will continue to accept the Elgar pounds 20 for a few months when used as a deposit or for other transactions.

The Bank launched a new pounds 20 note featuring 18th-century Scottish economist and Wealth of Nations author Adam Smith in 2007, which has run in tandem with Sir Elgar notes and will replace him as of today.

According to research from the Bank of England, North East duo Ant & Dec are the nation's third favourite to be featured on money, with Prince William coming out top. …