Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Elgar: The Music Makers

I was interrupted by other events last week, so now I want to commemorate the centennial of one of my favourite underrated orchestral works, The Music Makers by Edward Elgar, first performed in Birmingham on 1 October 1912.

I was Third (or possibly Second) Percussionist in a deserted performance of this in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, in about 1985, and really fell in love with it. It's a 40 minute long setting of Arthur O'Shaughnessy's evocative Ode:
We are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.
Normally people just quote the first three verses, but the whole thing goes on a bit longer; an ode of the tortured genius trying to explain why artistic endeavour is important, or at least that's how it appealed to 17-year-old me. (Though I have to say I mainly loved it for the decent and well-integrated percussion role.)

Well, it's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I still like it, with its sweeping musical vistas, references to other Elgar works (notably the Enigma variations) and stirring artistic exhortations. Unfortunately I can't link to any decent performance - none of the YouTube videos showing parts of it does it justice. But you might want to try a version on, or other resources (such as the score) should you feel so inclined. And if you're not sure, do give it a whirl.

  • A book (or books) I hate

    Thanks to my obsessive book-blogging and cross-referencing, I can reveal that these are the top ten books on LibraryThing by popularity which I have…

  • Linkspam for 17-9-2009

    The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's 20 worst sentences - Telegraph Spoilt for choice, really! (tags: sf)

  • My review of Angels and Demons... far and away the top-rated review of the book on Library Thing! If you voted for it, thank you!

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment