I would like to write about Elgar’s great cello concerto, Op.85. Undoubtedly, Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of the most famous pieces of Edward Elgar.
To begin with, the outbreak of the First World War was to alter the world, and Elgar was thinking about it was a period could change everything in the world. Elgar was deeply troubled because of the war. He was too old to be a soldier but he could compose many patriotic works in order to support of the war effort. He developed his idea from his feelings about the war. While he was suffering from the war, he was thinking that the life in Europe would never be the same after such a huge destruction. In a letter was written to his friend, Elgar wrote: “…everything good and nice and clean and fresh and sweet is far away - never to return.”
Elgar completed the concerto in 1919, just after the Great War. Cello Concerto in E Minor was written for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, strings, and solo cello. As it is known, some music works have known with interpreters. I believe that Elgar’s Cello Concerto was become an immortal work of art by Jacqueline du Pré, and also this music is still best known for Jacqueline du Pré although years have passed from death of the beautiful musician. Her interpretation was the nearest to perfect expression of Elgar’s feelings and it was possible to see destruction and pain of the war. If you watch the records of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in 1967, you will exactly see what I mean with the nearest to perfect. Although almost all famous cellists took part in orchestra with enthusiasm to play as a solo this concerto, none of them was as deeply moving as her perform because her perform was utterly unique. I think Jacqueline du Pré and Elgar’s Cello Concerto like two pieces belong each other. The first time I ever listened the music with her interpretation I started to weep like to feel her because that music was really full of pain. I was affected by her, and I decided to learn something about her life. I realized that her life was also full of pain like this concerto. When she was four years old, she has heard the sound of the cello on the radio and wanted her mother to buy a cello. In March 1961, at age 16, du Pré made her formal début, at Wigmore Hall, London. She made her concerto début on 21 March 1962 at the Royal Festival Hall playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Rudolf Schwarz. At a young age, her performance of the concerto proved so popular. Du Pré received two Stradivarius cellos as a present from her godmother, Ismena Holland. One of these instruments was Davidov, and many of her most famous recordings were made on this instrument, including the Elgar Concerto. Her friendship with musicians Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta and Pinchas Zukerman, and marriage to Daniel Barenboim led to many memorable chamber-music performances.
She become a slave to her passion and said in a interwiev: “I have never been a career demon. I love playing the cello and playing to people, but I have never wanted to do it every day and every hour of my life.” At the age of 26, Du Pré realized that she irreversibly begin to lose sensitivity in her fingers and other parts of her body. Her musical performances declined in the years she struggled with the Multiple Sclerosis. Her life seems to me like such a tragedy because she had to give up playing music although she devoted her all life to play cello. At the age of 42, Jacqueline Du Pré left her last breath in London when she died of multiple sclerosis she remained a prominent figure in the public eye.
When I listen her heartbreaking interpretation in Elgar’s Cello Concerto, I remember her tragic life and it leds to my tears.
I usually write my own musings about works, but the description of this video was enlightening enough that I’m just going to share it here:
“At the end of an overlong day laden with teaching and other duties, Edward Elgar lit a cigar, sat at his piano and began idling over the keys. To amuse his wife, the composer began to improvise a tune and played it several times, turning each reprise into a caricature of the way one of their friends might have played it or of their personal characteristics. “I believe that you are doing something which has never been done before,” exclaimed Mrs. Elgar. Thus was born one of music’s great works of original conception, and Elgar’s greatest large-scale “hit”: the Enigma Variations. The enigma is twofold: each of the 14 variations refers to a friend of Elgar’s, who is depicted by the nature of the music, or by sonic imitation of laughs, vocal inflections, or quirks, or by more abstract allusions. The other enigma is the presence of a larger “unheard” theme which is never stated but which according to the composer is very well known. The identity of the phantom tune left the world with the composer, and guesses have ranged from “God Save the King”, “Ein Feste Burg” and “Auld Lang Syne” to a simple major scale.” - olla-vogala
Have you ever wondered why the trio from Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is so widely used in American academic ceremony?
It turns out that the culprit is Yale: in 1905 Elgar visited to receive an honorary doctorate, so Professor Samuel Sanford honored the composer by using the tune as a recessional. In the coming decades it became a fixture at commencements, convocations, and the like nationwide.
It’s no wonder that the noble melody has come to be mildly reviled – if you’ve ever had to repeat it, like, fifty times as traveling music in a ceremony then you’ll understand – but it’s a shame, because the march as a whole is a great piece of music. At its Liverpool premiere the audience demanded a reprise. Ah, they couldn’t have known…