I usually feel content to provide good plain cooking and hope that the proof of the cooking is in the eating.
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
During the first half of the twentieth century, England once again became a producer of significant music after two hundred years of subservience to German and Italian music and musicians. While her musical achievements had been of prime importance in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, after the death of Purcell in 1695 there were no other outstanding native composers. From that time on foreign composers dominated the scene--Handel in the eighteenth century, and German symphonists from Mendelssohn to Brahms, and Italian opera composers from Bellini to Verdi, in the nineteenth.
However, because of a unique feature in English music--the great interest in choral singing-English composers throughout these years wrote countless cantatas and oratorios on Handelian or Mendelssohnian models for the numerous regional and national choir festivals.
In the Edwardian era, a respectable if not highly original group of composers emerged. Like their contemporaries in the United States (discussed in Chapter V), they tended to follow either the conservative ideals of Brahms or the progressive directions of Wagner and Strauss. However, the most important English composer of this generation, Edward Elgar ( 1857- 1934), was virtually self-trained. His