Elgar, O.M.: A Study of a Musician

By Percy M. Young | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
MUSIC FOR ORCHESTRA

Elgar was the last serious composer to be in touch with the great public.

Constant Lambert in Music Ho!

ELGAR'S ORCHESTRAL music falls into two main groups: one containing the non-symphonic, the other the symphonic. Within the latter group should be included what may be defined as the nearly symphonic. The range in this chapter is from Salut d'amour and the three Characteristic Pieces which comprise Opus 10 to the "Enigma" Variations and the Introduction and Allegro for strings. The larger works--those in symphonic manner--are reserved for later consideration; not because they are of necessity more important, but because the intention behind them suggested that they ought to be. Such a work as Cockaigne may, if the skill and imagination are present, be written without arrière-pensée, but such as the 'cello concerto only from deep reflection and great spiritual energy.

The music with which we are immediately concerned may in turn be divided into six classes. There is, in continuation of many of the earlier unpublished sketches, a considerable amount of "domestic" music, in which Elgar's ingenuousness is frequently and charmingly uncovered. There are, for example, 'cello obbligati to popular ballads written for Dr. Buck, a tiny piece "for Dot's nuns" ( 1906) and a movement "for the Barbers"1 for violin, mandoline and guitar ( June 15, 1907). There are some evident "pot-boilers"--not, perhaps, so many as might be expected from the notoriety of the few. In them he shows his lack of what is sometimes now irreverently named as "ghastly good taste." There is descriptive music and a solid, impressive block of ceremonial music. One or two pieces qualify solely as "music for orchestra."

____________________
1
See Index of Works, p. 406.

-273-

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Elgar, O.M.: A Study of a Musician
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 9
  • Illustrations 11
  • Preface 13
  • Part One 17
  • Chapter I - Greenings and Elgars 19
  • Chapter II - Edward 30
  • Chapter III - "Passed with Honours" 39
  • Chapter IV Mr. Elgar 51
  • Chapter V - "Splendid Saga-Ing" 66
  • Chapter VI - Dr. Elgar 78
  • Chapter VII - Sir Edward 96
  • Chapter VIII - The Professor 124
  • Chapter IX - Order of Merit 150
  • Chapter X - "The Spirit-Stirring Drum" 168
  • Chapter XI - ". . . and All Remote Peace" 189
  • Chapter XII - Master of the King's Musick 205
  • Chapter XIII - Three Score and Ten 225
  • Chapter XIV - Unfinished Symphony 239
  • Chapter XV - The Man Himself 248
  • Part Two 261
  • Chapter XVI - In Search of a Style 263
  • Chapter XVII - Music for Orchestra 273
  • Chapter XVIII - Music for Voices 294
  • Chapter XIX - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 307
  • Chapter XX - The Symphonic Composer 326
  • Chapter XXI - Chamber Music 345
  • Chapter XXII - Incidental Music 354
  • Chapter XXIII - Unfinished Opera 360
  • Chapter XXIV - Epilogue 376
  • Musical Examples 383
  • Appendix - Inscriptions by Elgar in G. R. Sinclair's "Visitors' Book" 398
  • Index of Works 402
  • Bibliography 426
  • Sources & Acknowledgments 429
  • General Index 431
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