Elgar Complete Edition

Volume 22
Music for Powick Asylum

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 [email protected].

Series IV : Orchestral Works

Publication History

  • Publication date : 22 September 2008
  • Publisher : ElgarWorks
  • ISBN : 978-1-904856-22-1
  • Availability : in print

Detailed Description

  • 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:
      • Menuetto;
      • 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.

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