THE FINAL YEARS - THE 1930s
In 1931 Elgar was created a Baronet in the Birthday Honours. Fittingly he chose the
title 'First Baronet of Broadheath'.
I do not know if it is permissible to send personal thanks to His Majesty the King: but,
if it is allowed I shall be grateful to you if you find it possible to convey to His Majesty
an expression of my sincere thanks for the honour which I am informed by the Prime Minister
is to be bestowed on me. This continues the happy memories I hold of recognition by the
Royal Family. As long ago as 1891 Her late Majesty, Queen Victoria, sent several messages
of appreciation to me by my old friend, Sir Walter Parratt, my predecessor as Master of
the Music; since that time the kindly interest of King Edward was very precious to me,
and the present honour to he conferred by His Majesty fills me to-day with a gratitude
which I cannot help wishing might be made known to the King.
Letter from Elgar to Sir Frederick Ponsonby,
None of the good wishes that will reach you today will be more sincere than those which
I send you from an old and grateful friend.
But why cannot we do things properly in this country. They might at least have offered
you a Peerage, after all you have done for Music. I know this to be a wide spread opinion
among musicians. After all your work will remain a national heritage, and a pride to all
of us, and we may as well take the will for the deed.
Letter from Granville Bantock to Elgar,
The following year was another milestone, Elgar’s 75th birthday
Father's 75th birthday. Lovely day. Hectic morning - telephone, telegrams etc. etc.
To see Father off by 12 train & round town. Very good spirits.
Carice Elgar diary
Sir Edward Elgar celebrates his 75th birthday today and congratulations and affectionate
wishes go out to him from every music-lover the world over.
He has quite an obsession that nobody wants his music, and it is an open secret that a
great festival of his works would have been given on his 70th birthday and again today but
for his very definite refusal to allow any such celebration to take place. He is one of the
greatest musicians in the world, and it is splendid to know that he has been spared to us
all these years unimpaired in health and vigour. The name Elgar will undoubtedly take its
place among the immortals.
Landon Ronald, News Chronicle,
But alongside the public celebrations were signs of a rejuvenation of Elgar’s spirits.
A new symphony was on the horizon, and a new muse in the person of Vera Hockman. The story
of the Third Symphony can be found
elsewhere on this site, and the story of Elgar’s
relationship with Vera Hockman in Kevin Allen’s book, ‘Elgar in Love’.
Always happy in the company of children, Elgar had commissioned a set of notes for the
new symphony from Vera Hockman’s daughter Dulcie.
I shall require strings and strings of semiquavers, demisemiquavers and of course all
the other kinds of notes, also rests, dots, etc. You go out and catch them in a butterfly
net and then hang them out to dry for a considerable time - and don't forget to include a
pair of scissors and a paste pot because I usually compose by cutting out other people's
music and pasting it on to my own.
Letter from Elgar to Dulcie Hockman,
I, Dulcie, agree to supply the required quantity of notes, rests, dots, etc. Also
scissors and a paste pot to be despatched to Edward Elgar by June 2nd, 1932.
Dulice Hockman contract with Elgar
On the appointed day Dulcie sent off strings and strings of notes, dots, rests as
ordered, nor did she forget to include the account, together with a few words of advice
as to how a beginner should set about composing a Symphony and what pitfalls to avoid.
But alas! the consignment failed to meet with Edward Elgar's approval. They were old stock
("possibly suitable to the second-rate stuff I turn out nowadays") and quite intractable,
all the wrong notes for the wrong instruments. But the contract had been signed so the
only thing to do was to grin and bear it and despatch a cheque signed by Marco, Mina
and Mobey, Edward Elgar's three dogs.
On what was to be his last birthday, in 1933, Elgar was made a G.C.V.O. in the
On occasion he would visit my father in his office. Once he pulled some manuscript
sheets out of his pocket and said: 'Here, would you like these?' 'These' were sketches for
the Introduction and Allegro for Strings. Another time
he dangled the insignia of the G.C.V.O. in front of my father, as who should say: 'See what
they've given me?' In actual fact he was not at all pleased, as he was hoping for the
peerage he never got ....
Elgar had been in Paris conducting the Violin Concerto
with Yehudi Menuhin, and visiting the composer Frederick
Delius. He was accompanied by Fred Gaisberg from HMV. He flew back to England on
his birthday, travelling in style with Imperial Airways, and then went on to W H Reed, who
lived not far from Croydon Airport.
Elgar had not flown before, and was very taken with the experience. "Well, to put it
poetically, it is not unlike my life. The rising from the ground was a little difficult;
you cannot tell exactly how you are going to stand it. When once you have reached the
heights it is very different. There is a delightful feeling of elation in sailing through
gold and silver clouds. I should have liked to stay there for ever. The descent is
like our old age - peaceful, even serene."
Sheep shearers came. Lovely day. left at 8. 30 & got to Vera's at 10.15 went on with
her to Aerodrome. Plane half an hour early so could not see it land. Father all safe &
very well & had loved it - Mr Gaisberg too. Drove him to Mr Reed's had champagne for his
birthday & heard about Paris & Delius. Mr Gaisberg & photographers came & took pictures of
him being toasted. He left with Dick for Worcester about 12.30. Vera & I to see lovely
spaniel puppy & back to lunch & sat out after looking at birds. Early tea & left about 3.45,
shopping at Dorking & home about 6.30. Very hot.
Carice Elgar diary
On his way home he stopped off at Broadway.
He seldom passed our house on his journeys between Worcester and London without
looking in, if only for a quarter of an hour. On his last birthday he appeared thus
unexpectedly, looking radiant; he had just flown from France and was as excited about
it as a schoolboy.
Mary de Navarro
I got back safely & found Marco Mina etc. well & wellcoming. I do not know how to thank
you for all you did - so I do not try, but believe me I am very grateful. Our visit to
Delius was a great event for me.
Letter from Elgar to Fred Gaisberg,