William Sterling

Edward Elgar

Elgar – his life and works

This course was run to coincide with the Elgar Year celebrations. The first English composer since Handel to gain an international reputation, Elgar remains one of the best loved of all English composers but his character is as much a mystery as the theme from his Enigma Variations.

2007 marked the 150th anniversary of Elgar’s birth and this course acted as an introduction to his life and works to help students appreciate all the concerts and programmes that were to take place during the year to celebrate the important anniversary. By turns a patriot (Pomp and Circumstance marches), a religious devotee (Dream of Gerontius), a gentle salon composer (Salut d’amour) and orchestral master (the symphonies and concertos), Elgar is one of the most difficult composers to pin down but all the more fascinating for that.

The course examined his career and music chronologically, examining large parts of all his major works and many of his minor works as well as some of the works he left unfinished and have been realised by modern composers.

I ran this course at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) January-April 2007 and drew on it for talks to the DfE Music Society in May 2007 and the HSE European Society in July 2007.

Elgar works

Below is the spreadsheet I created for this course showing Elgar’s works.

Elgar Works

Also as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations I recreated the well-known Elgar lecture by Dr William L. Reed.  Will was a composer and musicologist who died in 2002.  He was passionate about Elgar and travelled extensively in England to places where Elgar had lived.  He first gave his illustrated lecture in the 1960s and added to it over the years as he acqiured new information and visited more places, including the house in Italy where he wrote Alassio. Below is a copy of his Elgar talk based on the version I gave in his and Elgar’s memory in 2007.

Will Reed’s Illustrated Elgar lecture

For those interested I atttach a copy of one of Will’s compositions, the slow movement of his Mountain House Suite for viola and piano from a recording he made in the 1940s.

[audio:https://www.williamsterling.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/3-Andante.mp3|titles=3 Andante]