The Elgar Society Edition Ltd is pleased to announce the imminent publication of a further
volume in the Elgar Complete Edition - Volume 22: Music for Powick Asylum.
It was at the Powick Asylum, situated between
Worcester and Malvern but now demolished, that Elgar obtained his first paid employment as
a musician. Joining the asylum band as a violinist in 1877, he took on the role of bandmaster
from 1879 until 1884, a job which involved not only conducting the assembled forces but also
composing pieces for the band to play at its Friday evening dances. During his time at Powick,
he turned out 31 completed works, mainly in the style of the popular dances of the day - four sets
of quadrilles and one of lancers (with five quadrilles or lancers to each set), five polkas and a
Menuetto - and also sketched a further set of quadrilles. The band was a somewhat ad
hoc affair of varying composition, requiring Elgar to provide parts for instruments such as the
bombardon, and in some cases a part for whatever instrument turned up on the day.
The music has not previously been published; it has
survived only in the form of the part-books used by the musicians and now held in the Elgar
Birthplace archive. This has presented a number of unusual challenges. With no full score for
all but the Menuetto, only what appears to be a piano-conductor's score, the complete score has
been reconstructed from the separate parts. The partbooks are entirely manuscript, mainly in
Elgar's own hand, presenting problems of legibility and imprecision to overcome in a hurriedly
written-out part. In doing so, Elgar employed a number of quaint shorthand ploys requiring
interpretation and expansion. And for the string section, duplicate partbooks exist, obviously
intended for use by different desks; while these should be identical to each other, there are the
predictable discrepancies to resolve between them, indicative of a copying error rather than a
daring harmonic experiment by the youthful Elgar. Add to this the unusually repetitive nature
of the music with, for one of the pieces, a surviving ambiguity in the order in which the repeats
are to be performed, and even the casual reader may appreciate the care and skill needed to
produce a definitive volume of this nature.
The volume has been edited by Andrew Lyle, former
BBC Radio 3 producer, who developed a particular interest and expertise in this music. It comes complete with the customary apparatus of detailed source descriptions, commentaries and an introductory foreword, and 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 instrumental parts, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Series IV : Orchestral Works
- Publication date : 22 September 2008
- Publisher : ElgarWorks
- ISBN : 978-1-904856-22-1
- Availability : in print
- Editor : Andrew Lyle
- Number of pages : xxvi + 340
- Size : 250mm x 350mm
- Binding : cloth (hardback)
- Number of Illustrations : 11 (monochrome)
- Contents :
- 11 complete works for the Asylum band, comprising:
- Four sets of Quadrilles (Die junge Kokette; L'Assomoir; La Brunette; Paris);
- One set of Lancers (The Valentine);
- Five Polkas (Maud; Nelly; La Blonde; Helcia; Blumine)
- 1 substantial set of sketch scores for the Five Singing Quadrilles;
- 7 sets of Quadrille fragments and sketches.
- plus Editorial Foreword, Source Description, Critical Commentary and Illustrations.