Elgar, Edward William

In 1902 interest in The Dream of Gerontius was suddenly revived by the performance of a German translation of the work at the Lower Rhine Musical Festival at Düsseldorf, where Richard Strauss delivered a speech, in which he proclaimed it a masterpiece  and eulogized Elgar to such an extent that " even the English musical public was moved by such an unheard of tribute from abroad," and accordingly hastened to honor the prophet in his own country by repeating Gerontius at both the Sheffield and Worcester Festivals of that year, drawing im mense audiences. During the next two years it was performed several times in London, and in 1903 at Westminster Cathedral; while Covent Garden was devoted for three entire days in March, 1904, to an " Elgar Festival," where his most important compositions were given, and a new overture of remarkable beauty, In the South, as well as Gerontius and The Apostles. The latter, a still more ambitious work than those preceding, had been first produced in 1903 at the Birmingham Festival. According to the prefatory statement of the composer, this was the result of a long-cherished plan that originated in a remark of the schoolmaster in his boyhood, and developed into " oratorio embodying The Calling of the Apostles, their Teaching and their Mission, culminating in the establishment of the Church among the Gentiles;" The Kingdom, which appeared later, is set forth as a continuation of the subject matter in the Apostles. The text of The Apostles is made up of different scriptural passages, skilfully interwoven to form a harmonious whole. It is said to be more complex, more intricately organized than the Dream of Gerontius, and has provoked more criticism. Elgar resupposes familiarity with the criptures in his hearers, bringing out in The Apostles  only such points as are of salient interest or dramatic value; and this lack of minor details may have been confusing to some of his critics. The second performance of this work was in the United States, in 1904, by the Oratorio Society of New York, which also  gave The Dream of Gerontius twice in 1903, under Mr. Frank Darnrosch, and in 1907 gave The Apostles and The Kingdom. The Apollo Club of Chicago performed The Dream of Gerontius in 1903, and again in 1906, and The Apostles in 1906. At the Cincinnati May Festival of 1906, Elgar himself conducted The Dream of Gerontius and The Apostles, and two orchestral works, the overture, In the South, and an introduction and allegro for strings. The year before he had come to America for the first time to receive the degree of Doctor of Music from Yale, and his third visit was made in the spring of 1907, when he conducted his overture, In the South, and the Enigma Variations for orchestra at a Thomas concert in Chicago, and was received with enthusiasm. In October, 1907, The Dream of Gerontius was given at the Worcester (Massachusetts) Music Festival, under Mr. Wallace Goodrich, retiring conductor. Elgar's more recent oratorio, The Kingdom, was performed in England, in October, 1906, at the Birmingham Festival, which has brought out all his large choral works so far. This was followed by performances at six different towns in England during March, 1907. The work is a sequel to The Apostles, and resembles it in the choice of musical themes, but is naturally more meditative in character, Pentecost being the central point of interest in the text. In December, 1907, The Kingdom was performed twice in Germany, at Mayence and Aachen, respectively, and in October, The Dream of Gerontius was given at Melbourne. Elgar's variations for orchestra was given at Monte Carlo during December, 1907, by the Lamoreux Orchestra, and received very favorable comment in French journals. The work most recently brought out in his Orchestral Suite No. 1, which was originally written at the age of twelve for a small family orchestra, as music to a child's play, and entitled The Wand of Youth. This work was revised and re-orchestrated by the composer and produced at a Queen's Hall concert in London. It comprises seven movements; an Overture, Serenade, Minuet, Sun Dance, Fairy Pipers, Slumber Song, Fairies and Giants. This was composed for the entertainment of the family circle, Elgar's brothers and sisters taking the various parts.