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Armistice Declared, But No Celebration for Elgar

Donald Macleod on the effect of the Armistice in Great Britain in 1918 and how Elgar's life was permanently changed.

By the end of the Great War, Sir Edward Elgar couldn't compose any music to celebrate peace, disillusioned as he was by the whole period, which Donald Macleod explores in conversation with Terry Charman from the Imperial War Museum.

By 1918, Elgar had stomach problems and was continually unwell, finally being operated on to remove his tonsils. Compared to what hundreds of thousands were enduring in the trench warfare of the first world war, this was no great thing, but Elgar was 61 and not in great shape. Once installed with his wife in a rustic thatched cottage in West Sussex to recuperate, his creativity started to flow again, in particular sketching out a germ of a theme on his piano entitled "?", which would later become part of his Cello Concerto. There were also more rustic pursuits, including gardening and fishing, but then came an official request from the Ministry of Food for a new war work, Big Steamers. When the Armistice was signed, with his Land of Hope and Glory proving ever popular, Elgar did not feel inclined to compose any work in celebration of peace. Many of his friends had died, and his life was dramatically changed for ever.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 27 Jun 2014 18:00

Music Played

  • Edward Elgar

    Symphony no. 2 in E flat major Op.63

    Orchestra: BBC S O.. Conductor: Andrew Davis.
    • TELDEC : 9031 -74888 2.
    • TELDEC.
    • 5.
  • Edward Elgar

    Sonata in E minor Op.82 for violin and piano

    Performer: Hugh Bean. Performer: David Parkhouse.
    • EMI : CDM-7 69889-2.
    • EMI.
    • 4.
  • Edward Elgar

    The Wand of youth - suite no. 1 Op.1a

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Adrian Boult.
    • EMI : CDM-7 69207 2.
    • EMI.
    • 1.
  • Edward Elgar

    Coronation ode Op.44 vers. original 1902

    Singer: Felicity Lott. Singer: Alfreda Hodgson. Singer: Richard Morton. Singer: Stephen Roberts. Orchestra: Cabridge University Musical Sicety. Choir: King's College Cambridge Choir. Ensemble: Royal Military School of Music Band. Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Performer: Philip Ledger.
    • EMI: 5654542.
    • EMI.
    • 5.
  • Edward Elgar

    Theme of Elgar's Cello Concerto (played on Elgar's own Broadwood piano)

    Performer: David Owen Norris.
    • Avie: AV2129.
    • Avie.
    • 5.
  • Edward Elgar

    Big Steamers

    Choir: Tudor Choir. Conductor: Barry Collett.
    • PEARL SHE: CD9635.
    • PEARL SHE.
    • 23.

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