by Robert Anderson
Elgar Editions 0 9537082 5 X
Hardback - 480 pages with 93 photographs and illustrations
Inspired by the world premiere of Anthony Payne's elaboration of Elgar's sketches for a third symphony, Robert Anderson embarked on a voyage of rediscovery of the influences behind each of Elgar's major works. This book is the result.
Edward Elgar's music has an instinctive nobility and chivalry, equally characteristic of the man. His wide reading, interests in the world of art, visits abroad and social contacts made initially through his wife's position, reinforced the simple morality of his mother's teaching. From the concert overture Froissart to the sketches for Symphony No.3, which was to have included music Elgar first wrote for Laurence Binyon's play about King Arthur, Elgar's creative work owes much to the chivalric ideas that permeated late-Victorian and Edwardian society. The annotations and quotations Elgar added to his scores indicate not only the breadth of his culture but also hint at the inspirations that may have launched his music.
This book is not a biography. It is an invaluable companion to Elgar's music, bringing to life the characters he depicts and helping the reader gain a fuller understanding of the context of each work. As such, the book is set to become an essential addition to the libraries of all devotees of Elgar, while the author's informal yet authoritative style makes the book pleasurable reading for its own sake.