Elgar Complete Edition

Volume 19
The Starlight Express

Even by the standards of the Complete Edition, this is a ground-breaking volume. For some, the full score of Elgar's incidental music to The Starlight Express, edited by Roger Dubois and published here in its entirety for the first time*, will be sufficient incentive to acquire their copy.

     But painstaking months of editorial effort have resulted in a volume which offers so much more. Jerrold Northrop Moore's close comparison of the score with the text of the play and his scrutiny of Elgar's annotations on the composer's copy of the play typescript have made it possible to delve behind the staves and come up with a word-by-word correlation of spoken dialogue and music. Features of Elgar's score, meaningless when taken in isolation, are revealed to have a direct bearing on actions on stage, taking us much closer to the melodrama evolved in rehearsal, enacted during the production run of the play, and never recorded for posterity. And the composer's typescript annotations have been assimilated to provide a fascinating insight into the development of the play and its characters in parallel with Elgar's composition of the score, in part to meet musical and dramatic requirements, but also to comply with the financial realities of the production.

     Unusually for an academic edition, this volume places particular emphasis on performance aspects. The play has always suffered an unenthusiastic reception and contemporary press reviews make clear that the original production run at the Kingsway Theatre in London in January 1916 was doomed from the start. We shall never know how successful the play might have become had it been refined and revived the following Christmas, as was at one time suggested; but it is clear that subsequent radio broadcasts have handled the play unsympathetically. It is the sincere wish of the editors and publishers of this volume that the detailed insight it provides will stimulate further productions which recognise the composer's intentions and bring out the subtleties of Elgar's score.

     The Volume, which comes complete with the customary apparatus of detailed source descriptions, commentaries and an introductory foreword, can be obtained through all good book stores and specialist music shops, or directly from the publisher. For details, visit the How to Purchase page. To buy or hire copies of the vocal score or parts, e-mail [email protected].

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* only the three Organ-grinder's songs, one to introduce each act, have previously been published and these have a piano accompaniment not by Elgar but by Julius Harrison, who conducted the orchestra for the theatre run of the play.

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Series III : Dramatic Works

Publication History

  • Publication date : 26 March 2010
  • Publisher : ElgarWorks
  • ISBN : 978-1-904856-19-1
  • Availability : in print

Detailed Description

  • Editors : Roger Dubois, Jerrold Northrop Moore
  • Number of pages : xlvi + 346
  • Size : 250mm x 350mm
  • Binding : cloth (hardback)
  • Illustrations : 10 (monochrome)
  • Contents :
    • The full score of Elgar’s complete incidental music for The Starlight Express, published for the first time.
    • The full text of the play, with Jerrold Northrop Moore’s interpolation of the accompanied text and music.
    • An editorial Foreword providing an historical introduction to the play, including new material on its development determined from the editors’ study of the manuscript full score and Elgar’s annotations on his copy of the play typescript.
    • plus Source Description, Critical Commentary and Illustrations.

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