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Thread: Edward Elgar

  1. #16
    Senior Member Rachovsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztfreak View Post
    Disgusting! To make Elgar and his work a matter of politics! What in the world might he have to do with nazism? Those Englishmen really have some serious problems...

    I personally am a liberal, a leftist, almost a Marxist. But I have no problem listening to Elgar. Even the words (which of course he didn't write) I don't find bad or evil or whatever. Isn't every other national anthem like this Land of Hope and Glory?

    There's been and there always will be a very thin line between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is a dreadful thing. Patriotism is just fine.

    :S Would Croatia be a country without nationalism? Are you a croat?


    Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend. -- Beethoven

  2. #17
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Ha! Croatia a country without nationalism! Good one!

    No, of course there's a lot of it here. I still think it's very bad. Black people, Chinese, Roma etc. aren't popular at all. I mean, most of the people are normal, but there is always a minority of primitive ******** who find it hard to be human.
    But I didn't mean all Englishmen by 'those Englishmen'. I have nothing against the British. You can be sure of it - I'm quite of an anglophile in fact.

    And yes, I am a Croat.

  3. #18
    Senior Member purple99's Avatar
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    Land of Hope and Glory is rolled out in Britain once a year. Here it is from 2007. Patriots and nationalists sing the words of the middle verse four times (at 2:55, 4:54, 6:10 and 6:54) becoming more excited each time. The camera cuts from London to the North of England to a blonde girl with a bosom packed into a Union Jack t-shirt.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oONWgcvPutE

    Land of Hope and Glory,
    Mother of the Free,
    How shall we extol thee,
    Who are born of thee?
    Wider still and wider
    Shall thy bounds be set;
    God, who made thee mighty,
    Make thee mightier yet
    God, who made thee mighty,
    Make thee mightier yet.

    I get two main messages from those words: (a) God's an Englishman and (b) it's A Good Thing for the British Empire to spread wider and wider. Imagine if a bunch of Germans were singing those words, once a year, four times, with increasing excitement, demanding Lebensraum. Or Serbs. Or - with the greatest respect - Croats. Hasn't there been a spot of trouble in the Balkans with various groups (a) thinking God is on their side and (b) seeking to spread their bounds 'Wider still and wider'?

    Poor old Elgar. See how he's been hijacked? The British, now a highly multi-ethnic society and with no empire left, are split on whether such hijackings are desirable.

  4. #19
    Senior Member purple99's Avatar
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    p.s. It's best when there's also a fat lady belting it out.

  5. #20
    Senior Member confuoco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purple99 View Post

    Land of Hope and Glory,
    Mother of the Free,
    How shall we extol thee,
    Who are born of thee?
    Wider still and wider
    Shall thy bounds be set;
    God, who made thee mighty,
    Make thee mightier yet
    God, who made thee mighty,
    Make thee mightier yet.

    .
    Everything is relative...from another point of view this is beautiful patriotic song...It is typical for nationalist and other groups that they find new and hidden meanings in things in order to express their opinions in legal way...it is very typical. Elgar has no responsibility for that.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purple99 View Post
    I get two main messages from those words: (a) God's an Englishman and (b) it's A Good Thing for the British Empire to spread wider and wider. Imagine if a bunch of Germans were singing those words, once a year, four times, with increasing excitement, demanding Lebensraum. Or Serbs. Or - with the greatest respect - Croats. Hasn't there been a spot of trouble in the Balkans with various groups (a) thinking God is on their side and (b) seeking to spread their bounds 'Wider still and wider'?
    Several points:

    True, the words are a bit over the top, if you apply them to Britain, or any particular country. But let us close our eyes, be somewhat naive and imagine that the poem is refering to the Empire of Humankind! That the Land of Hope and Glory is in fact our dear Earth, or precisely, all of it's parts where humanity and reason rule. Then this is a good poem!

    Secondly, I hate when God is drawn into politics or used as an excuse for dubious deeds. I'm not religious really, but I still have respect for religion, and 'using' God in achieving various egoistic goals is quite a sacrilege, IMO.

    Thirdly, I must say you have a relatively objective view of the 'Balkan War' (the Third one, in fact - although people around here hate being called Balkanians). Although I wouldn't say Croatian people tried to grab additional Lebensraum - the boundaries of the country today are historical and haven't really changed since the end of Turkish (Ottoman) invasions. Serbs were indeed the agressors in that war. But I was too little at the time, and I have no problem with the Serbian people at all. Unlike many of my fellow countrymen.

    Fourthly (if there is such a word ), it is also true that a lot of God was drawn into that war too. Wrongly, of course. See my 'secondly' section.

    And lastly - let us be back to Sir Edward Elgar OM Bt GCVO!

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  8. #22
    Senior Member purple99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztfreak View Post
    But let us close our eyes, be somewhat naive and imagine that the poem is refering to the Empire of Humankind! That the Land of Hope and Glory is in fact our dear Earth, or precisely, all of it's parts where humanity and reason rule. Then this is a good poem!
    You've won me over.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztfreak View Post
    Secondly, I hate when God is drawn into politics or used as an excuse for dubious deeds.
    There's a scene in (I think) the WW1 musical 'Oh! what a lovely war' where an attack is planned for the next day so British troops are called to a church service where the chaplin informs them that God is on their side. The camera then pans over no-man's land to the German trenches where - you've guessed it - a German clergyman is informing German troops that God's on their side.

  9. #23
    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purple99 View Post
    Don’t forget he was influenced by Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer..
    I think you'll find it difficult to find any composer since the late 19th century who wasn't influenced by Wagner.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

  10. #24
    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Elgar View Post
    What do you think of the man?

    The highlights for me are the symphonies, concertos and minature works, although there is so much more this composer has to offer.

    Was he the saviour of British music, or just another link in the chain?

    Debate opened! Enjoy!
    I love The Dream of Gerontius, the Cello Concerto and the Violin Concerto. I like some of the shorter pieces like Sospiri, Elegy for Strings, Pomp & Curcumstance No.1 and Salut D'Amour also - the guy could definitely write a good tune.

    I'm struggling somewhat with the Symphonies though - I don't dislike them, but I don't truly love them either. Maybe I just haven't heard the right recording(s). But I have them on a recording from Andrew Davis and I'm told that he's a wonderful Elgar conductor, so it's probably just me.

    As for Elgar being the best British british composer - I don't know. I'm not familiar enough with many of the key works of those that would be considered the other main contenders to have an informed opinion. I'm a bit surprised that nobody so far has mentionned Purcell though. I don't know if he's "the best", and maybe it's hard to compare a baroque composer with late romantic or modern composers - but he's definitely important enough to be counted among the elite group of British composers IMO.

  11. #25
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I think I may find myself posting quite a lot in this thread, and it's really hard to know where to start. I was sixteen when I first heard the Introduction and Allegro for Strings, which music seemed to emanate from a place that was at once deeply rooted within me, yet also seemed to imply that there was some place 'out there' that I needed to find. So I was bound to make my way to the Malvern Hills eventually (though I grew to know a lot more of his music before that), and at first when I arrived there I thought 'this is the place'. And in a strictly biographical sense, of course, the Malvern Hills and countryside are, indeed, 'the place'. But over time I realised that 'the place' was really all of England, and Malvern was a kind of symbolic focus for that. And then again, later, I realised that this 'England' was really only a kind of focus for something still deeper and more profound. (I think it's Gimli, isn't it, at Helms Deep, who stamps on the ground and says something like 'this place has strong bones'? Well, this idea of 'England' seemed to be like that.) So this 'England' itself was not so much a place as an idea - like Blake's 'Albion'. It has nothing to do with nationalism; it's partly, but by no means wholly, to do with patriotism; it has something to do with landscape, but also more than just landscape - something to do with roots, and belonging, and certain kinds of ideals (noble and heroic ideals, some of them), mingled with a kind of indefinable sadness.

    And the point about Elgar is that his music is like an admission ticket into this place/idea. So which, I now force myself to ask, is the best ticket? The symphonies are wonderful - I've loved them for decades. The chamber works, so very very different, yet so recognisably Elgar, mark another high point. The cello concerto, the violin concerto - sheer magic, and on and on I could go (and probably will at some other time). But the work by Elgar that I would choose above all others is The Spirit of England (most perfectly and powerfully represented by the Alexander Gibson/Scottish National Orchestra recording with Teresa Cahill as soloist).

    It's a vocal/choral work lasting about half an hour. It's hardly ever performed, I think. I suspect the three currently available recordings sell poorly (though I don't know). But here's Elgar at his most profound. It may not be his greatest music in a technical sense - I'm not competent to judge that. But I believe it's his greatest work of art, in the broadest, most humanistic sense. It's based on three poems by Laurence Binyon, but the literal meaning of the words is really only a kind of rough guide to the meaning of the whole work, which expresses Elgar's deepest feelings about the anguish of war; the nobility of sacrifice; the despair created by the loss of thousands upon thousands of brave young men, and the sheer determination and need to come to terms with that and above all, to remember them appropriately; and the frightening mixture of beauty and pain that inhabits the making of music that deals with such profound thoughts and feelings. I find it impossible still, to listen to it without tears, and without feeling that this may be the most profound work of art I know.

    If someone told me I could only listen to one more piece of music, (with silence to follow forever after), I'd choose Elgar's The Spirit of England to be that final piece.
    Last edited by Elgarian; Aug-03-2008 at 09:30.

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  13. #26
    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Beautiful post, Elgarian.

  14. #27
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Oh that's very kind - thank you. (I was afraid I might have been a bit too much of an old softie, but I knew it all had to be said, somehow, however imperfectly.)

  15. #28
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    I love The Dream of Gerontius, the Cello Concerto and the Violin Concerto. I like some of the shorter pieces like Sospiri, Elegy for Strings, Pomp & Curcumstance No.1 and Salut D'Amour also ... I'm struggling somewhat with the Symphonies though.
    I wonder what it is about the symphonies that's causing the problem? I'm sure the purists would be horrified at what I'm about to say, but have you tried tackling them just one movement at a time, and picking and choosing? For instance, the slow (second) movement of the second symphony might, I think, more closely resemble the aspects of Elgar you like, than the rest. Just a shot in the dark, really, but maybe worth trying.

  16. #29
    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post
    I wonder what it is about the symphonies that's causing the problem? I'm sure the purists would be horrified at what I'm about to say, but have you tried tackling them just one movement at a time, and picking and choosing? For instance, the slow (second) movement of the second symphony might, I think, more closely resemble the aspects of Elgar you like, than the rest. Just a shot in the dark, really, but maybe worth trying.
    Yes, maybe - as you say, it's worth trying.

  17. #30
    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I wanted to add a few extra details about The Spirit of England, and here they are.

    Despite being one of Elgar's major works, this cantata is little-known and hardly ever performed. It's been suggested that if it had been titled For the Fallen rather than The Spirit of England it might have fared better in public perception. Indeed, if you're imagining something like the Elgar of the Pomp and Circumstance marches, you're way off beam. This is music both beautiful and harrowing; noble and proud, yet trying its utmost to keep despair at bay. Surprisingly, in view of its deep unfashionability, at the present moment there are three recordings available. One of them, in my view, is outstanding - namely, this one:



    It's available on Amazon for a ludicrously low price, here:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Choral...6851229&sr=1-1

    None of the recorded versions are poor, but in this wonderful version Teresa Cahill, singing with the Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus under Sir Alexander Gibson, demonstrates an insight into the meaning of this music than none of the others can match.

    Then there's this one:



    This one won't break the bank either, though the second section ('To Women') has a tenor singing the solo role which doesn't work for me. Details available here:

    http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/prod...?prod=CDLX7172

    Lastly, there's the Hickox/Felicity Lott version on EMI:



    Felicity Lott sings it beautifully, to be sure, but for my money misses the profound depths of meaning that are to be found in the Cahill/Gibson performance (above). It's available on Amazon here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elgar-Corona...6851229&sr=1-5

    The Spirit of England is based on three poems by Lawrence Binyon, the full texts of which can be found here:
    http://albionsmusic.tripod.com/id18.html

    And finally, here's the webpage provided by the Elgar Society, devoted to The Spirit of England:
    http://www.elgar.org/3spirit.htm

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