Elgar Complete Edition

Volume 29

Despite commissions from Novello in 1897 for the Imperial March and Banner of St George, the critical success of the ‘Enigma’ Variations in 1899 and improved terms offered for the publication of The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar became increasingly disenchanted with his regular publisher towards the end of the nineteenth century and began to look elsewhere. Boosey and Co’s reputation rested primarily on the publication of ‘ballads’, making his 1899 song cycle Sea Pictures, for which he provided accompaniments for both orchestra and solo piano, familiar territory for the publisher. His continued faith in Boosey to publish the full blown orchestral scores of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches was, however, less well founded. The first two marches took the publisher well outside its comfort zone, presenting the editors of this volume with a considerable challenge in disentangling the often errant articulation of the published scores to get back to Elgar’s true intentions.

No doubt sensitive to Boosey’s shortcomings, Elgar returned to Novello for the publication of the 1911 Coronation March but placed all of his original music for the 1924 Empire Exhibition/Pageant of Empire, including the Empire March, with Enoch, another publisher with little experience of publishing orchestral music. Perhaps aware of their own shortcomings, Enoch leant heavily on Boosey’s expertise, by now much improved, to publish orchestral parts for the march without attempting an orchestral full score - a pity because, when, in 1930, Elgar presented Boosey with a fifth Pomp and Circumstance March, they engraved a score of exemplary clarity, as good as anything Novello might have produced.

This is the first publication of all eight of Elgar’s completed orchestral marches in one volume, and while rationalisation of the widely differing standards in the source material has presented the editors with an unusually complex task, particularly for the Empire March where the copy text is a set of parts heavily overwritten with numerous corrections in an Elgarian hand. The outcome not only demonstrates Elgar’s development as a composer over a period approaching 35 years but also provides fascinating glimpses of widely varying standards within the music publishing industry during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

The appendix of unfinished works contains a further bonus, bringing together, alongside incomplete drafts for three marches of lesser substance, a full presentation of Elgar’s extensive sketches for a sixth Pomp and Circumstance March. An analysis of his annotations not only confirms that most of the material dates from around 1911 but that, having set the incomplete work to one side, he returned to it in the 1930s after composing the published March no.5. With the trio from the 1911 sketches now forming part of the Empire March, published by Enoch, it was presumably unavoidable that Elgar would devise a new trio, based on his second Piano Improvisation of 1929.

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.

Series IV : Orchestral Works

Publication History

  • Publication date :February 2022
  • Publisher : Elgar Works
  • ISBN : 978-1-904856-29-0 (hardback)

Detailed Description

  • Editor : Sarah Wheatcroft
  • Number of pages : xxxviii + 282
  • Page size : 350 mm x 250 mm (portrait)
  • Number of illustrations : 18 (monochrome)
  • Binding : cloth (hardback)
  • Contents :
    • The complete full scores, re-originated in their entirety, of Pomp & Circumstance Marches Nos.1-5; the Imperial March, Coronation March and Empire March;
    • An appendix containing all known sketches of the unfinished works March in B flat; Marziale, The Queen's Jubilee March and Pomp & Circumstance March No.6
    • A scholarly foreword recording the history of Elgar's composition of the works;
    • A comparative description of all known source material;
    • A comprehensive commentary detailing editorial decisions and amendments;
    • A range of facsimiles illustrating significant features of the work's development;
    • Composer's note recording the forces required.

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