‘Ridgehurst’, in Hertfordshire, was the home of Edward Speyer (1839-1934) and his family. The
Speyers had been Frankfurt bankers since the middle of the 17th century. Edward, the son of Carl
Wilhelm Speyer, a merchant and amateur composer, knew a vast range of musicians, from Mozart’s
son Carl, Rossini, Spohr, Mendelssohn and Liszt to Brahms, Joachim and Clara Schumann. He settled
in England in 1859, where he joined his elder brother, Carl, in a highly successful business importing
haberdashery. His first wife, Helena, died in 1882 and three years later he married Marie Antonia
(Tonia) Kufferath (1857-1939), a soprano much admired as an interpreter of Schumann and Brahms.
In 1890 Edward retired from the business, and in 1894 the family moved to Ridgehurst, a small
estate in Hertfordshire, which became a mecca for musical gatherings. He and Tonia first met the
Elgars in 1901, and a lifelong friendship ensued. This volume of Elgarian correspondence has as its
core the letters between the Edward Speyers and the Elgars. It also includes correspondence with
the many people, not all musicians, that the Elgars met on their visits to Ridgehurst: Frank Bridge,
Henry Hadow, Hubert Kufferath, Henry Oppenheimer, William Shakespeare, Donald Tovey and
Emile Vandervelde among them.
Until his recent death, Martin Bird was an authority on the life of Elgar and was editor of the
Elgar Society Journal from 2011 to 2017. He studied music at school in the days when the A-level
syllabus always included a work by Elgar and was bowled over by The Dream of Gerontius, a work
he subsequently conducted. After graduating from the University of Kent and Canterbury with
a degree in Economic and Social History, and a subsequent career with British Airways, Martin
divided his time between playing the double bass and researching the life of Elgar. His dabblings
in the backwaters of Victorian and Edwardian music history resulted in a research database that
has grown to over six million words. The database includes transcriptions of all letters to and from
Elgar which he managed to locate plus full transcriptions of all surviving Elgar family diaries. These
together form the basis of the Collected Correspondence series. In 2016 Martin was awarded the
Elgar Society Medal ‘for his significant scholarship in editing the Elgar diaries and correspondence’.
Volumes of the Collected Correspondence edition can be obtained through all good book stores,
specialist music shops and wholesalers, or directly from the publisher at the addresses below.
Series II Vol.3 ; x + 415 pages ; 152mm x 232mm ; 8 plates containing 27 monochrome illustrations
cloth binding ; ISBN: 978-1-904856-60-3 ; Publication date: 13 August 2019