Elgar's Hillside

Started by Mark, September 20, 2007, 02:03:01 AM

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Elgarian Redux

Quote from: Karl Henning on June 22, 2024, 10:54:57 AMNever before have spilt beans overperformed expectations so magnificently!

You have encouraged me to undertake a Master's Degree Course in Bean Spillage, Karl.

Roasted Swan

Just ordered a (modern) copy online - looking forwrad to reading it......

Elgarian Redux

Right ... below is the photo of Birchwood Lodge (in 1898) that's loosely stuck in the book. Hand-written bottom right is "Jebb-Scott". Jebb Scott was a friend of Elgar's, and one presumes it was he who took the original photo. Subsequently, one assumes, reconditioned by the East Grinstead photographer on the instructions of whoever owned this book.

I think that might be all I can deduce.

Elgarian Redux

Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 22, 2024, 11:29:16 AMJust ordered a (modern) copy online - looking forwrad to reading it......
You'll either love it or hate it. I'll have my fingers crossed that it's the former.

Elgarian Redux

I could have saved myself quite a bit of unnecessary searching if I'd gone straight to the Elgar Society website, where all the older issues of the Journal are available, including the two issues that contain a long two-part article by Kevin Allen on the "Dorabella Archive", stored at the Royal College of Music. There, I would have found the information that Dora did indeed live in East Grinstead, and a lot more besides:

Volume 20 no. 1 (April 2017)

Volume 20 no. 2 (August 2017)


71 dB

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on June 22, 2024, 06:24:22 AMDora's maths wasn't so good it seems, because 1959-1898  is 61 years, not 100.

She uses the word "nearly." Obviously 100 is used to emphasise that the time gap has been very long. It wasn't 21 or 31 years. It was 61 years! Nearly 100 years! It is not a math textbook. It is a book written in totally different mentality.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW Jan. 2024 "Harpeggiator"

Elgarian Redux

Quote from: 71 dB on June 23, 2024, 12:48:05 AMShe uses the word "nearly." Obviously 100 is used to emphasise that the time gap has been very long. It wasn't 21 or 31 years. It was 61 years! Nearly 100 years! It is not a math textbook. It is a book written in totally different mentality.

Yes, I do get that. And indeed the book is definitely short on algebraic formulae (though it does contain the 'Dorabella Cypher', which might be considered mathematical, by some).
 
But I was just making a sort of light-hearted but feeble attempt at quasi-humour, actually, and didn't expect anyone to take me literally - though I freely admit the humour was so feeble that you could miss it.

Elgarian Redux

I just found this video which shows, at 1.37, a photo of Dora with her bike, which I've never seen before.


Brian

Quote from: Luke on June 08, 2024, 01:22:55 PMAnd then, at the end of Elgar's VC, what else do we hear but a giant orchestral Aeolian harp, thrummed across the body of the orchestral  strings in a manner strikingly similar to the workings of the wind-powered instrument, whilst the violin's inconceivably poetic cadenza unwinds until all that is left is Windflower, with the accent on wind... It's really the heart of Elgar, this unique and heart stopping cadenza, IMO.

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on June 09, 2024, 10:48:36 AMThank goodness, he is someone who realises that there are certain experiences often categorised dismissively as 'nostalgia', which in fact are among the most profound experiences we have, and Elgar is the master of expressing them in musical terms.

I remember once discussing this with an old friend (we'd done some archaeology together many years before) where we thrashed the thing out between us, concluding that there was a world of difference between wanting to relive or revisit the past (on the one hand) and wishing to contemplate the past with a view to enriching the present (on the other). Elgar is a master of the second of these. It's very different to the usual concept of 'nostalgia' as a kind of sentimentalism. I'm reassured that Matthew Riley seems to have a clear sight of this.

The question is: when we listen to Elgar, are we wistfully retreading old ground wanting to go back, or are we revisiting old ground in order to bring extra insight into the present? Understanding the difference between the two seems to me to be crucial.

Well, gents, you've inspired me to put on the Violin Concerto this morning for a focused listen while the lady of the house goes for a run. (Perlman/DG) I'm midway into the slow movement now and bowled over by the intense emotion that Perlman commits to in this music. A shallower thought than either of yours, but I've always felt that Elgar's music represented a rebuke to the "stiff upper lip" Victorian cliche of repressed Brits, rather than an embodiment of it...a composer baring his soul to encourage his audience to do the same.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Brian on June 23, 2024, 07:11:33 AMWell, gents, you've inspired me to put on the Violin Concerto this morning for a focused listen while the lady of the house goes for a run. (Perlman/DG) I'm midway into the slow movement now and bowled over by the intense emotion that Perlman commits to in this music. A shallower thought than either of yours, but I've always felt that Elgar's music represented a rebuke to the "stiff upper lip" Victorian cliche of repressed Brits, rather than an embodiment of it...a composer baring his soul to encourage his audience to do the same.

to the bolded - absolutely not - your observation is completely insightful and correct I reckon.  The irony is that Elgar is still rolled out as some musical representation of "the establishment" whereas in fact he was an outsider socially and musically.....

Elgarian Redux

Quote from: Brian on June 23, 2024, 07:11:33 AMI've always felt that Elgar's music represented a rebuke to the "stiff upper lip" Victorian cliche of repressed Brits, rather than an embodiment of it...a composer baring his soul to encourage his audience to do the same.

The idea that this is somehow a 'shallow' observation is absurd. It's spot on, Brian, correcting one of the many misunderstandings about Elgar's music.

Elgarian Redux

#3751
I've been dipping into Dorabella's book. Not so easy as it used to be - I keep turning back to the title page, and reminding myself that this is a real physical connection, here - a coming together of two historic times through a single object. It's a kind of literary archaeology, devoid of trowels. Anyway, I'm reading this little section, where for the first time, Elgar had played the whole of the Enigma Variations on piano for Dora on the evening before. And then:
 
"Next day we spent most of the morning on the British Camp. We told each other stories of the 'Variations' whom I knew, and laughed aloud about two of them in particular: delightful companions with whom we had both of us, on different occasions, had such a good time; whose personalities and even little eccentricities had been so uncannily 'reflected' in the music."

And I've known and have loved this music for so long, and I'm reading this book, this very book written in by Dora, who was so proud to be a Variationee, and I've been on the British Camp many times, standing where they stood, laughing about the Variations, and it feels quite strange: like when I pick up a prehistoric worked flint in a ploughed Avebury field, and the time gap collapses, or seems somehow unreal. Here the gap is only 130 years, but the effect is the same.

71 dB

Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 23, 2024, 07:20:21 AMThe irony is that Elgar is still rolled out as some musical representation of "the establishment" whereas in fact he was an outsider socially and musically.....

I can understand how Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches may sound like representation of "the establishment" to more casual listeners, but exploring Elgar's music further and deeper should expose a totally different kind of World. The fact that my brain seems to be so well wired for Elgar's music must have helped me realise the true nature of Elgar's music from the first bars of his music I heard.
Spatial distortion is a serious problem deteriorating headphone listening.
Crossfeeders reduce spatial distortion and make the sound more natural
and less tiresome in headphone listening.

My Sound Cloud page <-- NEW Jan. 2024 "Harpeggiator"

Roasted Swan

Quote from: 71 dB on June 25, 2024, 01:54:37 AMI can understand how Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance Marches may sound like representation of "the establishment" to more casual listeners, but exploring Elgar's music further and deeper should expose a totally different kind of World. The fact that my brain seems to be so well wired for Elgar's music must have helped me realise the true nature of Elgar's music from the first bars of his music I heard.

To the bolded I would say only by association.  Apart from Nos.1 & 4 the other 3 (or 4 if you like) P&C Marches are notable for their nervy energy that are not at all the "nobilmente" Sun setting over the Empire kind of thing.  I think they are both really fine and interesting as Marches but also more intriguing and even subversive than might be thought.

lordlance

#3754
Tried the Cello Concerto and there's the academic dryness I was talking of (gave up by the fourth movement)

I can't think of many instruments that can actually size up to an orchestra - the piano and sometimes violin... The cello works in the case of the Dvorak I suppose.  Percussion concertos are fun.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread.
Also looking for recommendations on neglected conductors thread.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: lordlance on July 01, 2024, 03:52:07 PMTried the Cello Concerto and there's the academic dryness I was talking of (gave up by the fourth movement)

I can't think of many instruments that can actually size up to an orchestra - the piano and sometimes violin... The cello works in the case of the Dvorak I suppose.  Percussion concertos are fun.

Proof if ever proof were needed that as a composer you simply cannot win!  Where many criticise Elgar for his sentimentality and excess of emotion Lordlance hears "academic dryness".  I fully accept there will be a broad church taste on a forum like this and likewise acknowledge that not all composers appeal to all.  But to say Elgar is academically dry (it has been pointed out he is literally the least academic of composers since he was self-taught but Lord Lance prefers his own description) is just so absurd, so lacking in any kind of insight into the human condition - which is what Elgar is all about - that it renders the comment literally laughable.

Elgarian Redux

Quote from: Roasted Swan on July 01, 2024, 11:00:25 PMProof if ever proof were needed that as a composer you simply cannot win!  Where many criticise Elgar for his sentimentality and excess of emotion Lordlance hears "academic dryness".  I fully accept there will be a broad church taste on a forum like this and likewise acknowledge that not all composers appeal to all.  But to say Elgar is academically dry (it has been pointed out he is literally the least academic of composers since he was self-taught but Lord Lance prefers his own description) is just so absurd, so lacking in any kind of insight into the human condition - which is what Elgar is all about - that it renders the comment literally laughable.

I suppose the problem is that in music (perhaps as in life) there really are no absolutes. In particular, when we discuss music here, we're trying to express in words what we individually hear, and we can never be sure that words are adequate for the job. I share your bafflement, of course - it seems especially strange to read a description of the cello concerto as 'academically dry', when one experiences it as a heart-on-sleeve gut-wrenching expression of the human condition. I suppose it means that we can never know just what is going on in someone else's head when we are listening to the same piece of music. Or looking at the same painting. Or watching the same cricket match, etc etc.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on July 02, 2024, 12:24:01 AMI suppose the problem is that in music (perhaps as in life) there really are no absolutes. In particular, when we discuss music here, we're trying to express in words what we individually hear, and we can never be sure that words are adequate for the job. I share your bafflement, of course - it seems especially strange to read a description of the cello concerto as 'academically dry', when one experiences it as a heart-on-sleeve gut-wrenching expression of the human condition. I suppose it means that we can never know just what is going on in someone else's head when we are listening to the same piece of music. Or looking at the same painting. Or watching the same cricket match, etc etc.

A very fair and balanced comment (you are more of a diplomat than I!)

lordlance

Quote from: Roasted Swan on July 01, 2024, 11:00:25 PMProof if ever proof were needed that as a composer you simply cannot win!  Where many criticise Elgar for his sentimentality and excess of emotion Lordlance hears "academic dryness".  I fully accept there will be a broad church taste on a forum like this and likewise acknowledge that not all composers appeal to all.  But to say Elgar is academically dry (it has been pointed out he is literally the least academic of composers since he was self-taught but Lord Lance prefers his own description) is just so absurd, so lacking in any kind of insight into the human condition - which is what Elgar is all about - that it renders the comment literally laughable.

I stick with the word academic, yes, despite him not literally studying at an academy. I am using it merely to talk of music without emotion (a la Bach.) I find the fixation with the literal interpretation strange. I don't think people calling any music academic are literally talking about formulating music in the way the textbooks teach music theory. It's about lacking passion/emotion/being dull.

It's OK if you don't agree with my comment about Elgar, Roasted Swan. No need to get carried away. We all have our own tastes.
If you are interested in listening to orchestrations of solo/chamber music, you might be interested in this thread.
Also looking for recommendations on neglected conductors thread.

Karl Henning

Quote from: Elgarian Redux on July 02, 2024, 12:24:01 AMI suppose the problem is that in music (perhaps as in life) there really are no absolutes. In particular, when we discuss music here, we're trying to express in words what we individually hear, and we can never be sure that words are adequate for the job.
I find eminent adequacy in these words.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot