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

By Percy M. Young | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
CHAMBER MUSIC

What an outlook! A sonata for V. & P.!!! and a Piano & String Quintet!!!? At last we chamber music people get also our due from one whom we so much admire in his choral & orchestral works.

Dr. Adoef Brodsky to Elgar, Dec. 30, 1918

ELGAR'S CHAMBER MUSIC arrived in 1919 with apparent unexpectedness: this, it was suggested at the time, was out of character. It is immediately clear that the sonata, quartet and quintet do represent facets of the composer that had hitherto been hidden. The medium --and no man ever studied his medium with greater care--was held partly to account for this. But the overall tautness of effect and economy, amounting almost to austerity, was--and is--startling. A generous survey of Elgar's output, in which many experiments are to be noted, puts this in perspective. But there is a practical consideration of some importance.

It will have been seen that Elgar continually set down fugitive ideas in his sketch books against the time when they might be incorporated in some work or other. It would sometimes seem that he found it difficult to resist certain passages which were, accordingly, given houseroom. So in The Apostles and in Falstaff (some, but not I, would quote also the first symphony), in the unfinished pianoforte concerto and the opera there is thematic congestion. This is not the case in the chamber music.

This, together with the 'cello concerto which shares the same economic quality, was conceived in Sussex. The sketch books in which so many phrases familiar in other works lie were not at Brinkwells. Thus Elgar was not able to consult what he had in

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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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