Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

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01Dreamer20150907

Exploring Elgar's early years and how his childhood experiences never left him.

In his sixties, Elgar said: "I am still at heart the dreamy child who used to be found in the reeds by Severn side with a sheet of paper, trying to fix the sounds and longing for something very great." In this first programme, Donald Macleod recounts Elgar's early years, and explores how those childhood experiences never left him.

Elgar emerged onto the scene at a time when Britain was still described as 'a land without music'. He played a central role in reviving this country's musical reputation and his success won him fame, honours and a place at the heart of the cultural establishment. Nevertheless, he cast himself as an outsider throughout his long career.

4 Choral songs, Op.53: No. 1. There is sweet music

Cambridge University Choir,

Iain Farrington, piano

The Wand of Youth Suite No. 2

English Symphony and String Orchestra

William Boughton, conductor

The Music Makers Op. 69 (Excerpt)

Felicity Palmer (contralto)

London symphony Orchestra

Richard Hickox, conductor

Very easy melodious exercises in first position

Nigel Kennedy, violin

Peter Pettinger, piano.

01The Edwardian Golden Summer20120130

Donald Macleod focuses on Elgar's work during the Edwardian Golden Summer in 1914.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum. At the outbreak of war, Elgar was noted for being more concerned about his beloved horses, than for any soldiers fighting. Little did anyone know how many horses or people would die in this conflict, which lasted more than the predicted three months. Elgar did do his bit though, joining the Special Reserve, conducting charity concerts to raise much needed funds, and composing the odd bit of jingoistic music to rally the people. It is the Great War period back at home in Great Britain, with Zeppelin raids, German cruisers shelling Whitby and Scarborough, to xenophobic riots in London, which Donald Macleod explores tracing how these events affected the life and music of Sir Edward Elgar.

1914, and in the age of Empire and British supremacy at sea, it was the Edwardian Golden Summer. Few people realised that war was looming, and commissions were coming in for Elgar, such as from the Sons of Clergy Festival at St. Paul's Cathedral, for which he composed his anthem Give unto the Lord. Soon, with motor vehicles requisitioned, and the unmistakable increase of men in khaki, the Great War had begun. Elgar soon received his first war commission in aid of the Belgian Fund, writing a work for narrator and orchestra, Carillon. But many of Elgar's most fierce supporters were German, including Hans Richter, to whom he dedicated his Three Bavarian Dances.

01The Edwardian Golden Summer2011110720140623

Donald Macleod focuses on Elgar's work during the Edwardian Golden Summer in 1914.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum. At the outbreak of war, Elgar was noted for being more concerned about his beloved horses, than for any soldiers fighting. Little did anyone know how many horses or people would die in this conflict, which lasted more than the predicted three months. Elgar did do his bit though, joining the Special Reserve, conducting charity concerts to raise much needed funds, and composing the odd bit of jingoistic music to rally the people. It is the Great War period back at home in Great Britain, with Zeppelin raids, German cruisers shelling Whitby and Scarborough, to xenophobic riots in London, which Donald Macleod explores tracing how these events affected the life and music of Sir Edward Elgar.

1914, and in the age of Empire and British supremacy at sea, it was the Edwardian Golden Summer. Few people realised that war was looming, and commissions were coming in for Elgar, such as from the Sons of Clergy Festival at St. Paul's Cathedral, for which he composed his anthem Give unto the Lord. Soon, with motor vehicles requisitioned, and the unmistakable increase of men in khaki, the Great War had begun. Elgar soon received his first war commission in aid of the Belgian Fund, writing a work for narrator and orchestra, Carillon. But many of Elgar's most fierce supporters were German, including Hans Richter, to whom he dedicated his Three Bavarian Dances.

01The Roots Of An Enigma20130617

Donald Macleod follows Elgar from birth to the brink of his first acknowledged masterpiece

Celebrating British Music: Donald Macleod explores the life and work of the 'quintessentially English' composer, Edward Elgar, whose musical roots lay firmly in Europe, and whose Catholicism and class background bequeathed him a lifelong sense of isolation from mainstream British society.

Today's programme follows Elgar from birth to the brink of his first acknowledged masterpiece via unrequited love, wind quintets written for performance in the family shed, a spell as music director at a lunatic asylum, marriage, early recognition, the advent of 'Nimrod' (August Jaeger), and the first glimmerings of success beyond the confines of his native Worcestershire.

02Alice20150908

The challenges Elgar and his wife Alice met together during their first years of marriage.

Elgar might never have reached his full potential but for the care and support of his wife, Alice. Donald Macleod explores some of the challenges they met together during their first years of marriage.

Elgar emerged onto the scene at a time when Britain was still described as 'a land without music'. He played a central role in reviving this country's musical reputation, and his success won him fame, honours and a place at the heart of the cultural establishment. Nevertheless, he cast himself as an outsider throughout his long career.

Sursum Corda (elevation) Op. 11

London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Roderick Elms, organ

Richard Hickox, conductor

L'Assomoir: Quadrille 1-5

Innovation Chamber Ensemble

Barry Collett, conductor

Salut d'amour

Nigel Kennedy, violin

Steven Isserlis, cello

Peter Pettinger, piano

Mot d'amour

The Black Knight Op. 25 (Excerpt)

Froissart Op. 19

English Symphony Orchestra

Williams Boughton, conductor.

02Cracking The Enigma20130618

Donald Macleod focuses on two works: the Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius.

Celebrating British Music: Donald Macleod explores the life and work of the 'quintessentially English' composer, Edward Elgar, whose musical roots lay firmly in Europe, and whose Catholicism and class background bequeathed him a lifelong sense of isolation from mainstream British society.

Today's programme focuses on two works: the Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius. The former grew out of Elgar's musical doodlings at the piano after a hard day's teaching; the latter from his childhood faith, which was soon to suffer a serious knockback. The Variations were a huge success from the outset, while The Dream had to rebuild its reputation after a disastrous first performance.

02Elgar And The Zeppelin Raids On London2011110820140624

Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1915, when Elgar wrote music for The Starlight Express.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

At the beginning of 1915 came the realisation that the Great War was not going to be over in three months. German cruisers had been shelling Whitby and Scarborough, and Zeppelin raids were happening over London. Keen to do his bit, Elgar joined the Hampstead Special Reserve, being called out when needed for air-raid duties. He also started to compose a work genuinely inspired by the pity of war and the inhumanity of warfare, The Spirit of England. But with the sinking of the Lusitania, riots took place in London, and xenophobia was on the rise. At this very same time, Elgar was writing his Polonia, a symphonic prelude in aid of the Polish Relief Fund. However, what the people needed more than anything, was escapism, and Elgar supplied it by returning to fairyland, with his Starlight Express.

02Elgar And The Zeppelin Raids On London2011110820120131

Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1915, when Elgar wrote music for The Starlight Express.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

At the outbreak of war, Elgar was noted for being more concerned about his beloved horses, than for any soldiers fighting.

Little did anyone know how many horses or people would die in this conflict, which lasted more than the predicted three months.

Elgar did do his bit though, joining the Special Reserve, conducting charity concerts to raise much needed funds, and composing the odd bit of jingoistic music to rally the people.

It is the Great War period back at home in Great Britain, with Zeppelin raids, German cruisers shelling Whitby and Scarborough, to xenophobic riots in London, which Donald Macleod explores tracing how these events affected the life and music of Sir Edward Elgar.

1914, and in the age of Empire and British supremacy at sea, it was the Edwardian Golden Summer.

Few people realised that war was looming, and commissions were coming in for Elgar, such as from the Sons of Clergy Festival at St.

Paul's Cathedral, for which he composed his anthem Give unto the Lord.

Soon, with motor vehicles requisitioned, and the unmistakable increase of men in khaki, the Great War had begun.

Elgar soon received his first war commission in aid of the Belgian Fund, writing a work for narrator and orchestra, Carillon.

But many of Elgar's most fierce supporters were German, including Hans Richter, to whom he dedicated his Three Bavarian Dances.

At the beginning of 1915, came the realisation that the Great War was not going to be over in three months. German cruisers had been shelling Whitby and Scarborough, and Zeppelin raids were happening over London. Keen to do his bit, Elgar joined the Hampstead Special Reserve, being called out when needed for air-raid duties. He also started to compose a work genuinely inspired by the pity of war and the inhumanity of warfare, his The Spirit of England. But with the sinking of the Lusitania, riots took place in London, and xenophobia was on the rise. At this very same time, Elgar was writing his Polonia, a symphonic prelude in aid of the Polish Relief Fund. However, what the people needed more than anything, was escapism, and Elgar supplied it by returning to fairyland, with his Starlight Express.

03Elgar And The Gramophone Company2011110920140625

Donald Macleod on how Elgar was moved by the war dead arriving at Charing Cross station.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

The Great War dragged on, and by 1916 the government was forced to introduce compulsory national service. Elgar found himself touring the North of England and Scotland, with morale-raising concerts and music including To Women from The Spirit of England. But Elgar was unwell even before the war started, and war events combined with his exhausting work were dragging him down. His wife Alice refused to let Elgar accept the offer of a conducting tour of Russia, due to his ill health. He still managed though to keep working on a theme or two of his, such as his incomplete Piano Concerto, and a jingoistic work Fight for Right.

03Elgar And The Gramophone Company2011110920120201

Donald Macleod on how Elgar was moved by the war dead arriving at Charing Cross Station.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

The Great War dragged on, and by 1916 the government was forced to introduce compulsory national service. Elgar found himself touring the North of England and Scotland, with morale-raising concerts and music including To Women from The Spirit of England. But Elgar was unwell even before the war started, and war events combined with his exhausting work were dragging him down. His wife Alice refused to let Elgar accept the offer of a conducting tour of Russia, due to his ill health. He still managed though to keep working on a theme or two of his, such as his incomplete Piano Concerto, and a jingoistic work Fight for Right.

The Great War dragged on, and by 1916 the government was forced to introduce compulsory national service.

Elgar found himself touring the North of England and Scotland, with morale-raising concerts and music including To Women from The Spirit of England.

But Elgar was unwell even before the war started, and war events combined with his exhausting work were dragging him down.

His wife Alice refused to let Elgar accept the offer of a conducting tour of Russia, due to his ill health.

He still managed though to keep working on a theme or two of his, such as his incomplete Piano Concerto, and a jingoistic work Fight for Right.

03Malvern20150909

Donald Macleod on how Elgar's music was influenced by the landscape of the Malvern hills.

In 1891, Elgar and his wife returned from London to set up home in the shadow of the Malvern hills. Donald Macleod explores how Elgar's music was influenced by the landscape around him.

Elgar emerged onto the scene at a time when Britain was still described as 'a land without music'. He played a central role in reviving this country's musical reputation, and his success won him fame, honours and a place at the heart of the cultural establishment. Nevertheless, he cast himself as an outsider throughout his long career.

The Light of Life, Op. 29

Judith Howarth, soprano

Linda Finnie, contralto

Arthur Davies, tenor

John Shirley-Quirk, baritone

London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Richard Hickox, conductor

3 characteristic Pieces, Op. 10 No. 1, Mazurka

Marat Bisengaliev, violin

Benjamin Frith, piano

Caractacus. Op 35 (excerpt)

David Wilson-Johnson, baritone

Stephen Roberts, bass

Alistair Miles, bass

Conducted by Richard Hickox

Sea Pictures Op 37: Sea Slumber song; The Swimmer

Felicity Palmer, contralto

London Symphony Orchestra

03The Long-awaited Symphony20130619

Celebrating British Music: Donald Macleod explores the life and work of the 'quintessentially English' composer, Edward Elgar, whose musical roots lay firmly in Europe, and whose Catholicism and class background bequeathed him a lifelong sense of isolation from mainstream British society.

Today's programme explores two very different facets of Elgar's musical personality: on the one hand, the confident unflappability of the first Pomp and Circumstance march; and on the other, the nuanced, doubt-ridden progress of the First Symphony, whose conclusion is just as triumphant but much harder won. Both works were huge, instant and enduring successes.

04A Fat Knight And A New King20130620

Donald Macleod learns how Elgar shunned the coronation of King George V.

Celebrating British Music: Donald Macleod explores the life and work of the 'quintessentially English' composer, Edward Elgar, whose musical roots lay firmly in Europe, and whose Catholicism and class background bequeathed him a lifelong sense of isolation from mainstream British society.

Today's programme has a royal thread running through it. In 1911, Elgar was commissioned to write music for the coronation of George V. He fulfilled his commission but a last-minute bout of depression kept him, and his bemused wife and child, away from the ceremony, where they were to have been honoured guests. Elgar's symphonic study of Shakespeare's Fat Knight has divided audiences. He considered it his orchestral masterpiece; others find its reputation enigmatic.

04Elgar And The Fringes Of The Fleet2011111020140626

Donald Macleod explores Elgar's song cycle The Fringes of the Fleet.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

With no end in sight for the war, it continued on into 1917. This is when Elgar heard of the death of his friend and supporter Hans Richter, who had given the premiere of some of Elgar's best known works, including the Enigma Variations. Things however were starting to change in Britain, with a new government, and the introduction of convoys to protect cargo and hospital ships from the German u-boat campaign. But with the continued reports of atrocities on the front line, and increased deprivations at home, Elgar finally found the stimulus to finish his work The Spirit of England, with a setting of The Fourth of August. It wasn't only war music which Elgar concentrated on during this time, as he also composed his only ballet incorporating 18th century French costumes and classical mythology, in The Sanguine Fan.

04Elgar And The Fringes Of The Fleet2011111020120202

Donald Macleod explores Elgar's song cycle The Fringes of the Fleet.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

With no end in sight for the war, it continued on into 1917. This is when Elgar heard of the death of his friend and supporter Hans Richter, who had given the premiere of some of Elgar's best known works, including the Enigma Variations. Things however were starting to change in Britain, with a new government, and the introduction of convoys to protect cargo and hospital ships from the German u-boat campaign. But with the continued reports of atrocities on the front line, and increased deprivations at home, Elgar finally found the stimulus to finish his work The Spirit of England, with a setting of The Fourth of August. It wasn't only war music which Elgar concentrated on during this time, as he also composed his only ballet incorporating 18th century French costumes and classical mythology, in The Sanguine Fan.

Donald Macleed explores Elgar's song cycle The Fringes of the Fleet.

With no end in sight for the war, it continued on into 1917.

This is when Elgar heard of the death of his friend and supporter Hans Richter, who had given the premiere of some of Elgar's best known works, including the Enigma Variations.

Things however were starting to change in Britain, with a new government, and the introduction of convoys to protect cargo and hospital ships from the German u-boat campaign.

But with the continued reports of atrocities on the front line, and increased deprivations at home, Elgar finally found the stimulus to finish his work The Spirit of England, with a setting of The Fourth of August.

It wasn't only war music which Elgar concentrated on during this time, as he also composed his only ballet incorporating 18th century French costumes and classical mythology, in The Sanguine Fan.

04The Apostles20150910

About to turn 50, Elgar took up cycling and started work on a major new choral project.

As Elgar headed towards his 50th birthday, he took up cycling and started work on a major new choral project. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Elgar emerged onto the scene at a time when Britain was still described as 'a land without music'. He played a central role in reviving this country's musical reputation, and his success won him fame, honours and a place at the heart of the cultural establishment. Nevertheless, he cast himself as an outsider throughout his long career.

Cockaigne (in London town), Op. 40

English Symphony Orchestra

William Boughton, conductor

The Apostles: (Excerpt from Part 2)

Rebecca Evans, soprano

Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano

Paul Groves, tenor

Jacques Imbrailo, baritone

David Kempster, baritone

Brindley Sherratt, bass

The Halle Orchestra, Choir and Youth Choir

Sir Mark Elder, conductor

In the South "Alassio"

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Richard Hickox, conductor

Love, Op18, No 2

The Finzi Singers

Paul Spicer, director.

05'my Beloved Country'20150911

How after 1914, Elgar's inclination to nostalgia became even more heightened.

After 1914, Elgar and Alice through themselves into war work. In his music, Elgar's inclination to nostalgia became even more heightened as the world he knew was swept away by a conflict he could barely understand. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Elgar emerged onto the scene at a time when Britain was still described as 'a land without music'. He played a central role in reviving this country's musical reputation, and his success won him fame, honours and a place at the heart of the cultural establishment. Nevertheless, he cast himself as an outsider throughout his long career.

05 LASTArmistice Declared, But No Celebration For Elgar2011111120140627

Donald Macleod on the effect of the Armistice in Great Britain in 1918.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

By 1918, Elgar had stomach problems and was continually unwell, finally being operated on to remove his tonsils. Compared to what hundreds of thousands were enduring in the trench warfare of the first world war, this was no great thing, but Elgar was 61 and not in great shape. Once installed with his wife in a rustic thatched cottage in West Sussex to recuperate, his creativity started to flow again, in particular sketching out a germ of a theme on his piano entitled "?", which would later become part of his Cello Concerto. There were also more rustic pursuits, including gardening and fishing, but then came an official request from the Ministry of Food for a new war work, Big Steamers. When the Armistice was signed, with his Land of Hope and Glory proving ever popular, Elgar did not feel inclined to compose any work in celebration of peace. Many of his friends had died, and his life was dramatically changed for ever.

05 LASTArmistice Declared, But No Celebration For Elgar2011111120120203

Donald Macleod on the effect of the Armistice in Great Britain in 1918.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

By 1918, Elgar had stomach problems and was continually unwell, finally being operated on to remove his tonsils. Compared to what hundreds of thousands were enduring in the trench warfare of the first world war, this was no great thing, but Elgar was 61 and not in great shape. Once installed with his wife in a rustic thatched cottage in West Sussex to recuperate, his creativity started to flow again, in particular sketching out a germ of a theme on his piano entitled "?", which would later become part of his Cello Concerto. There were also more rustic pursuits, including gardening and fishing, but then came an official request from the Ministry of Food for a new war work, Big Steamers. When the Armistice was signed, with his Land of Hope and Glory proving ever popular, Elgar did not feel inclined to compose any work in celebration of peace. Many of his friends had died, and his life was dramatically changed for ever.

By 1918, Elgar had stomach problems and was continually unwell, finally being operated on to remove his tonsils.

Compared to what hundreds of thousands were enduring in the trench warfare of the first world war, this was no great thing, but Elgar was 61 and not in great shape.

Once installed with his wife in a rustic thatched cottage in West Sussex to recuperate, his creativity started to flow again, in particular sketching out a germ of a theme on his piano entitled "?", which would later become part of his Cello Concerto.

There were also more rustic pursuits, including gardening and fishing, but then came an official request from the Ministry of Food for a new war work, Big Steamers.

When the Armistice was signed, with his Land of Hope and Glory proving ever popular, Elgar did not feel inclined to compose any work in celebration of peace.

Many of his friends had died, and his life was dramatically changed for ever.

05 LASTWar And Beyond20130621

Donald Macleod focuses on Elgar's life during the First World War and beyond.

Celebrating British Music: Donald Macleod explores the life and work of the 'quintessentially English' composer, Edward Elgar, whose musical roots lay firmly in Europe, and whose Catholicism and class background bequeathed him a lifelong sense of isolation from mainstream British society.

Today's programme charts Elgar's progress during and after World War I. The blithe bluster of Carillon, written at the beginning of the conflict, gives way to the deep melancholy of the Cello Concerto, written at the other end of the collective European nightmare. Within a year of the concerto, Elgar's wife Alice died of undiagnosed lung cancer and from that point on he completed no new works of substance. He did, however, throw himself into a major recording project, committing interpretations of much of his own orchestral output to disc - the first such undertaking by a composer.