Page 6, 31st May 1957

31st May 1957
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N. Fowler Wright

certain musical genius from his father, but had the abundant blessings of the true Faith to support him from the start of his career.

Throughout his life, Elgar maintained that he was self-taught, and there is certainly little evidence to the contrary. The family was large — nine in all — and means were limited. The much longed for study at Leipzig had to be sacrificed for earning a living. Even when he did escape to London, in 1887, to receive violin lessons from Pollitzer, leader of the new Philharmonic Orchestra, he was obliged to sustain himself for a matter of months on a diet of two bags of nuts a day.

Returning to Worcester. Eiger was appointed conductor and coacher of the orchestra in the local lunatic asylum.

Remembering Pollitzer's advice. he began to lose a fantastic dream of becoming a world-famous virtuoso, and now aimed to become a composer—an ambition that was very soon achieved, since he began to receive the sum of five shillings for each quadrille written for the weekly dances of the institution.

TO LONDON

(11..RADUALLY, the musi

cian's position in the beautiful " Three Choir " city was becoming established. He had founded and conducted an amateur orchestra, " The Worcester Glee Club," with his father among the musicians. In 1885, he officially took over from him at St. George's, and in the following year Elgar was appointed a professor at the Worcester College for the Blind.

But the belief of a wife was to change all this, for following Elgar's marriage to Caroline Alice Roberts, a descendant of Robert Raikes of Sunday school fame, at the Oratory, in 1889, he allowed her to persuade him to resign all his Worcester appointments. Full of confidence for the future, the Elgars moved to London.

Unfortunately the experiment proved premature, since the couple ran short of money, when the majority of manuscripts submitted to music publishers kept returning unwanted. They were obliged to return to Worcestershire, where a fresh start was made at Malvern, since Caroline had a teaching connection there, that would be useful to them both.

Yet London had given the composer the opportunity of hearing an enormous amount of music, so that he now knew the tastes of the concert-going public. And he had meet one man, August Jaeger, a life-long friend and "Nimrod " of the " Enigma Variations," who thought most highly of his work, promising Elgar his help. Jaeger was music-reader to Novello's, and this was to prove an offer of very considerable worth.

THE 'ENIGMA'

A ND then suddenly, despite the grinding routine of teaching, of leading and conducting amateurs, and of trying to make ends meet, Elgar's determination to become a composer of something really great was richly rewarded.

Sitting at the piano one evening, he experimented with an original theme, playing it to his wife in the various ways in which he thought his friends would interpret it. The Enigma Variations " had been born, and immediately met with enthusiastic support from Jaeger.

Produced in London in the June of 1899, and conducted by Hans Richter, the work proclaimed Eiger as a composer of the first order. In the following October, his " Sea Pictures " were given a Command Performance at Balmoral. The future was assured.

Then came " Gerontius." Elgar had been given a copy of Newman's poem by the priest who " Enigma Variations," the "Cockaigne Overture," and the "Pomp and Circumstance Marches."

KNIGHTHOOD

IN the following July the monarch knighted their composer, thereby fulfilling a childhood prophecy of Elgar, when first attending school:

" What is your name ? " asked the headmaster.

" Edward Elgar." the boy replied.

" Say ' sir '," ordered the headmaster.

And the boy answered, "Sir Edward Elgar."

Later on, Eiger was to receive the Order of Merit, which was awarded shortly before his " March for the Coronation of George V " was performed.

In April. 1924, he was made Master of the King's Musick, though he had been writing " royal " compositions as far back as 1898 when composing a cantata (" Caractacus ") for Victoria.

This tradition was continued when the "Nursery Suite " was first played at a private performance in May, 1931, attended by the Duke and Duchess of York, who were delighted with the work that had been prompted by the birth of Princess Margaret. In the June of that year. Elgar was created a baronet.

SELF-TAUGHT MASTER R the most part, however,

these later years saw few new composition. Elgar's wife had died in the April of 1920, striking a blow from which he never fully recovered. He spent the remaining years chiefly as a conductor, particularly of his own works.

Elgar died quietly on February 23, 1934, and lies buried at St. Widstan's Church, Little Malvern, in his beloved Worcestershire. The offer of a grave in Westminster Abbey had to be refused on account of his being a Catholic.

But his real memorial was to be his music, which resounded in churches and halls all over the country. as it still does today.

Shortly before he died, Elgar inherited £7,000 front the eminent Schuster " for having saved his country from the reproach of having produced no composer worthy to rank with the world's masters." For the self-taught Elgar had achieved no less.

" A IL-ROUND-THE-CLOCK."

was amused the other day to find that my own nickname for the splendid new hybrid foxgloves had been adopted by someone who had a particularly fine show of them two years ago.

Ours were given to us originally by the grower, splendid \specimens that we allowed to seed, and then left the seedlings to grow up as they pleased. thinning them out later to a preconceived design, and we are looking forward from now onwards to yearly displays in white and rose and yellow, of these lovely six-footers.

We have done the same thing for sears with forget-me-nots — either allowed them to seed where they grow, or else throwing bunches of the dead plants down in places where we hope to see them coming up the following Spring.

To many, this manner of seedsowing will seem too haphazard, but in a cottage garden it combines labour-saving in the sowing and care of seeds, with a delightful element of surprise.

This is the time for the ordinary outdoor sowing of seeds for next Spring and Summer: Sweet William, polyanthus and wallflowers, pansies, stocks and Canterbury bells. Prepare a seed = GARDENING .1




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