<< -- 2 -- David Bury SCHOLARSHIP AND ORIGINALITY
How much has this to do with Elgar? We cannot know precisely to what
extent the composer was influenced by particular things, although there
are plenty of clues. He did not, for example, select texts by accident,
while even his scores contain written pointers; 'when chivalry lifted up
her lance on high' is how he inscribed the manuscript of Froissart.
Elgar, too, wrote hundreds of letters, quite apart from other writings such
as a commentary on his Symphonic Suite Falstaff which makes clear
his view of that work.
At all events, Dr Anderson hopes he 'may have hit upon some points fundamental
to Elgar's inspiration', and the book considers a number of his works --
ranging from early pieces such as Froissart, The Banner of St
George and The Black Knight to great masterpieces like Falstaff
and the Second Symphony -- in relation to such probable influences.
Of course, it is Dr Anderson's thesis that in considering 'influences'
we are, in fact, dealing with just one great 'influence', viz. 'Chivalry',
or rather the idealised Victorian concept reflected in the myriad artists
and writers (including the composer's wife) who are set before us. In this
it seems to me he is correct and has come up with a vital key to our understanding
of Elgar. Edward's music, in its vigour, nobility, dreamlike quality, nostalgic
melancholy, was not plucked -- as is sometimes suggested -- out of the pure
air of the Malvern Hills; rather it came from something much wider, the
spirit of the age in which he lived, the artistic climate in which he moved.
Copyright © 19 January 2003
David Bury, Surrey, UK