Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Eddies

I checked out a book on Edward Elgar, thinking it was a biography.
But it's just letters to and from the friends about whom he wrote his famous "Enigma Variations" which is a set of short musical portraits of these friends.

I read a few, and not too surprisingly they are about as boring as an uptight Edwardian intellectual can make them.

I did find the following, which I consider quite amusing.

Midland Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool.
Friday [14 Mar. 1919]

My dear W.
It was so good & sweet of you to think of such a nice plan for Carice. It is
awful here - all dreadful U.S. Americans - the lowest of the human race & a jazz band. I am dreadfully unhappy at everything. We return as soon as we can. I remember buying notepaper here with an unnecessary E on it which I kept for you till it was all gone.
Do ring up on Monday morng & we try for Tuesday & make a nice plan.

Love Ed

Geez, Eddy we're sorry about tossing your tea in the harbor.
Give us a break already.

I've had the fun of creation out of the string quartet.
Now I must pay the piper and face the agony of enharmonic spelling.
Actually the agony is David's until I catch on how to do it myself.

So, goodnight to you all,
And goodnight Miss Calabash, wherever you are.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's SIR Edward Elgar to you, Yankee lowlife!

.....Edward "sweetcheeks" Elgar

9:08 PM  
Blogger butch said...

Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English Romantic composer. Several of his first major orchestral works, including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, were greeted with acclaim. He also composed oratorios, chamber music, symphonies, instrumental concertos, and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.

During the 1890s Elgar gradually built up a reputation as a composer, chiefly of works for the great choral festivals of the Midlands. The Black Knight and King Olaf (1896), both inspired by Longfellow, The Light of Life and Caractacus were all modestly successful and he obtained a long-standing publisher in Novello and Company. He also generously recommended the young composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to the Three Choirs Festival for a concert piece, which helped establish the younger man's career. Elgar was catching the eyes of the prominent critics, although their reviews were still lukewarm, and he was in demand as a festival composer, but he was just getting by financially and not feeling appreciated the way he wanted to be. In 1898, he continued to be "very sick at heart over music" and hoped to find a way to succeed with a larger work. His friend August Jaeger tried to lift his spirits, "A day's attack of the blues...will not drive away your desire, your necessity, which is to exercise those creative faculties which a kind providence has given you. Your time of universal recognition will come."

In 1899, that prediction suddenly came true. At the age of 42, Elgar's produced his first major orchestral work, the Enigma Variations, which was premiered in London under the baton of the eminent German conductor Hans Richter. In Elgar's own words, "I have sketched a set of Variations on an original theme. The Variations have amused me because I've labelled them with the nicknames of my particular friends...that is to say I've written the variations each one to represent the mood of the 'party' (the person)... and have written what I think they would have written--if they were asses enough to compose". Elgar dedicated the work "To my friends pictured within".

The large-scale work was received with general acclaim, heralded for its originality, charm, and fine craftsmanship, and it established Elgar as the pre-eminent British composer of his generation. It is formally titled Variations on an Original Theme; the word "Enigma" appears over the first six measures of music, which led to the familiar version of the title. The enigma is that, although there are fourteen variations on the "original theme", the 'enigma' theme, which Elgar said 'runs through and over the whole set' is never heard. Many later commentators have observed that although Elgar is today regarded as a characteristically English composer, his orchestral music and this work in particular share much with the Central European tradition typified at the time by the work of Richard Strauss. Indeed, the Enigma Variations were well-received in Germany, and persist to this day as a world-wide concert favourite.

The following year saw the production at the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival of his choral setting of Cardinal Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius. Despite a disastrous first performance due to poorly-prepared performers, the German premiere was much better received and the work was established within a few years as one of Elgar's greatest. It is now regarded as one of the finest examples of English choral music from any era.

Elgar is probably best known for the five Pomp and Circumstance Marches, composed between 1901 and 1930. Shortly after he composed the first march, Elgar set the trio melody to words by A. C. Benson as a Coronation Ode to mark the coronation of King Edward VII. The suggestion had already been made (allegedly by the future King himself) that words should be fitted to the broad tune which formed the trio section of this march. Against the advice of his friends, Elgar suggested that Benson furnish further words to allow him to include it in the new work. The result was Land of Hope and Glory, which formed the finale of the ode and was also issued (with slightly different words) as a separate song. The work was immensely popular and became a second national anthem. At last, he had made the leap from accomplished back-country musician to England's foremost composer. It also gained Elgar the highest recognition he could have dreamed of--honorary degrees, a knighthood, special royal audiences, and a triumphal three-day festival of his music at Covent Garden attended by the King and Queen.

In 1904 Elgar and his family moved to Plas Gwyn, a large house on the outskirts of Hereford, overlooking the River Wye.

Between 1902 and 1914 Elgar enjoyed phenomenal success, made four visits to the USA including one conducting tour, and earned considerable fees from the performance of his music. Between 1905 and 1908 Elgar held the post of Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham. His lectures there caused controversy owing to remarks he made about other English composers and English music in general; he was quoted as saying "English music is white - it evades everything". The University of Birmingham's Special Collections contain an archive of letters written by Elgar. His new life as a celebrity was a mixed blessing as it often provoked ill-health from his high-strung nature and interrupted his privacy. He complained to Jaeger in 1903, "My life is one continual giving up of little things which I love."

Elgar's Symphony No. 1 (1908) was given one hundred performances in its first year, the violin concerto (1910) was commissioned by the world-renowned violinist Fritz Kreisler and was a resounding success, premiered by Kreisler with the Philharmonic Society of London, the composer conducting. In 1911, the year of the completion of his Symphony No. 2, he had the Order of Merit bestowed upon him. In 1912 he moved back to London, again to be closer to musical society but to the detriment of his love of the countryside and to his general mood.

Elgar's musical legacy is primarily orchestral and choral, but he did write for soloists and smaller instrumental groups. His one work for brass band, The Severn Suite (later arranged by the composer for orchestra), remains an important part of the brass band repertoire. This work was dedicated to his friend George Bernard Shaw. It is occasionally performed in its arrangement by Sir Ivor Atkins for organ as the composer's second Organ Sonata; Elgar's first, much earlier (1895) Organ Sonata was written specifically for the instrument in a highly orchestral style, and remains a cornerstone of the English Romantic organ repertoire.

Later years
During World War I his music began to fall out of fashion. The war was overturning his world and his time. He himself grew to hate his 'Pomp and Circumstance' March No.1 with its popular tune (identified as 'Land of Hope and Glory' when the words were later added), which he felt had been made into a jingoistic song, not in keeping with the tragic loss of life in the war. This was captured in the film Elgar by Ken Russell. After the death of his wife in 1920, loneliness and declining interest in his art fostered little in the way of new works of importance. Shortly before her death he composed the elegiac Cello Concerto, often described as his last masterpiece.

Elgar lived in the village of Kempsey, Worcestershire from 1923 to 1927. It was during this time, a few weeks before the performance of his "Empire March" and eight songs "Pageant of Empire" for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, that he was made Master of the King's Musick.

He was the first composer to make extensive recordings of his own compositions. HMV (His Master's Voice) recorded much of his music acoustically from 1914 onwards and then began a series of electrical recordings in 1926 that continued until 1933, including his "Enigma Variations," "Falstaff," the first and second symphonies, his cello and violin concertos, all of the "Pomp and Circumstance" marches, and other orchestral works. Part of a 1927 rehearsal of the second symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra was also recorded and later issued.

"[Elgar's music is] wonderful in its heroic melancholy" - William Butler Yeats, on the incidental music for "Grania and Diarmid".
"The trees are singing my music", Elgar wrote. "Or have I sung theirs?"[15]
"This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another. My life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw, and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory". - John Ruskin, quoted by Elgar on the manuscript score of 'Dream of Gerontius'.
"Well, my boy, it's damned hard work" - Elgar to young aspiring composer Alan Bush, on being asked what it was like to be a composer. (Recounted by Bush to members of the Workers' Music Association).[citation needed]

At the end of his life Elgar began work on an opera, The Spanish Lady, and accepted a commission from the BBC to compose a Third Symphony. His final illness prevented their completion.

He died from inoperable cancer (discovered during an operation in September 1933)[citation needed] on 23 February 1934 and was buried, at St. Wulstan's Church in Little Malvern, next to his wife Alice. Within four months, two more great English composers - Gustav Holst and Frederick Delius - were also dead.

Three statues of him in England--quite an accomplished bugger considering he was such a Brit Twit. Personally I find the lives of both Eddie Emerald, and Eddie Poo much more fascinating. But then, that's just me, enit?


5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be so harsh with the Brits, Dude. The British Invasion of the 1960's changed music forever, and it certainly influenced me. Herman's Hermits were a genius group; much more accomplished than those fake American Monkees.

......Eddy Emerald

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see where Butch posted one of his many anti-war musings with several references to me? I think it is so sweet that my Douglas and the Butchmeister, and even Anonomann keep my memory alive.


5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elgar's music sounded like crap through a goose to me!

....George Patton

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elgar Smellgar....give me Scott Joplin any day over him! Or a good dose of Ledbelly.

.........Muddy Waters

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally the whole issue, issuance, music, biography, and existance of an English boor like Elgar is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.


5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo Lane!
Perhaps the fascista butts on the fifth floor of Benaroya will plan a Fall program of Elgar's works. Would that not be just like those prissy dumkopfs? Give my streaking best to young Keth, and just tell him to avert his eyes when I enter the john. The LL sends her regards to Meredith, who must be enjoying her retirement.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hallo, Y'All (to use an US-American expression)!
Someties I agree with Eddie E about "my fellow Americans"; that's one reason I flee regularly to my Geraan oasis!

4:30 PM  

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