|Printed:||1999||Author:||Jerrold Northrop Moore|
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press||ISBN:||0198163665|
Using primary sources that range from Elgar's musical sketches and scores to letters, diaries and contemporary reviews, Moore shows how a self-taught violin teacher from a provincial English town created such masterpieces as the Enigma Variations, the Cello Concerto and the Dream of Gerontius. All this at a time when the vogue for Brahms and other Continental composers made it hard for even well-connected British ones like Arthur Sullivan to get their orchestral works heard.
Moore describes in fascinating detail how Elgar shaped and reshaped each major work, sometimes over a period of years--the Second Symphony took almost a decade to compose. He also explores Elgar's complex personality. Uneasy about his middle-class origins, he often played the role of a bluff, country gentleman, but his music is more like that of a British Tchaikovsky--extravagant and restless, with a powerful emotional charge.
As Elgar's story unfolds, the whole artistic life of late Victorian and Edwardian Britain is conjured up. Moore traces the composer's friendships with Hans Richter, Richard Strauss, Fritz Kreisler, George Bernard Shaw and Augustus Jaeger, the editor at Novello's who recognized and nurtured Elgar's genius.