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

By Percy M. Young | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
EPILOGUE

A composer of a regal order.

Clue for a crossword puzzle

TWENTY YEARS after his death the reputation of a composer, more often than not, is at a low ebb. Of Handel at such a time no more was generally performed than two oratorios and a few choice excerpts; of Bach virtually nothing. The low esteem in which Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven were held by the cognoscenti was deplored in his youth by Mendelssohn; while as for Mendelssohn himself it has taken a good half-century for the critical winds to veer again in the direction of favourable. In the end some composers ride contemptuously over the waves of fashion, weathering the rough waters of hostile criticism.

It is, now, just over twenty years since Elgar died. His reputation is immune from transient and wayward criticism, for some part of his music, adapting itself to succeeding climates of mood and opinion, is, for the English people at least, indispensable. Gerontius--old controversies so far forgotten that it is now sung in Welsh at a Royal National Eisteddfod--is immovable among the first half-dozen or so of great choral works; the Variations are accepted as unique both in conception and in beauty; the violin and 'cello concertos have their place among the classics; Cockaigne is a programme builder's sine qua non; the symphony in A flat and Falstaff are the proudest extended works in the English symphonic repertoire. These are the works for which Elgar is esteemed, and on account of which he must be considered by the musical historian for at least another generation.

But greatness lies in more than this. It is by his less ambitious pieces that Elgar has "gained the Empire of the ear." Two Pompand Circumstance

-376-

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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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