Page 6, 31st May 1957

31st May 1957
Page 6
Page 6, 31st May 1957 — ELGAR THE Self-taught GENIUS

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Locations: Birmingham, Worcester


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" fILD Elgar always handed

%.-/ round the snuff-box before commencing the Mass, 'damned' the blower and began . . . went out at the sermon for a drink at the Hop Market." Such is said of William Henry Elgar, pianotuner to Queen Adelaide, and non-Catholic organist of St. George's (Jesuit) Church, Worcester, who became father of the great Sir Edward Elgar, Bart., just one hundred years ago on June 2, 1857.

Some years later, a young boy was to be found sitting on the banks of the Severn, trying to write down what the reeds were singing.

But Edward Eiger is not to be regarded as just another child prodigy. His boyhood was cornparatively normal, enlivened by such pranks as advertising in the local paper, at the age of 14, for a wife of cheerful temperament." (The notice appeared in print as " a wife of cheerful temperature" with some doubt as to who was responsible for the error !)

A love for music was stimulated by the variety of instruments that lay round his father's music shop, and Edward had soon tried each one in turn. Before long he had mastered all of them, so that by the age of 15 the boy was beginning to replace his father at the organ of St. George's.


.FI.GAR'S mother had become a Catholic largely as a result of accompanying her husband to church, and thus the composer not only inherited a

officiated at his wedding.

Asked by the Birmingham Festival Committee of 1900, tel compose a major work, he scored " The Dream." Its performance in Birmingham, however. proved too much for a chorus unaccustomed to works of such magnitude.

It was in fact several years before the oratorio was fittingly rendered and proclaimed a masterpiece. This was at the Elgar Festival, held in 1904 at Covent Garden, attended by Edward VII, who also returned on subsequent nights to hear the " Apostles," the

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