I have been neglecting Elgar for some time now, despite his music being particularly close to my own sensibilities, and almost all his finer works buried in my library. But I have, at long last, taken down Jerrold Northrop Moore’s biography from my shelves, and this morning reached his description and commentary on the composition, publication by Novello, and first performance, under Karl Richter, in Birmingham, of The Dream of Gerontius.
The video clip below is of an especially fine rendition, and it is, in fact, from the recording I have kept for many years. I find the scoring for the trumpet at the first Farewell and for all the forces at the magnificent final cadence particularly moving. I have also heard the work live, directed by Andrew Davis, in Toronto (although I’m no longer sure of the place, as it was some time ago); the ticket was a gift from my wife.
Moore’s book is painstakingly, almost maddeningly, detailed in the presentation of his meticulous research of the sources that were then known and available. But his work is fair, comprehensive, and evocative of the persons of the time and that time itself. While reading it, I cannot help but note that publishers, then too, were largely interested in profit and only superficially in art and the artist.
My little business partnership, Falstaff Enterprises, which has been kicking around for the better part of thirty years, does not take its name from either Shakespeare or Verdi, but from this: