Around The Birthplace in 80 Days
February 23rd 2014 marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Sir Edward Elgar. We will be commemorating his death with 80 days of 'bite-sized' talks.
From Sunday 23rd February, every day until Tuesday 13th May, there will be a 5 minute presentation at 2:30pm by a member of the Museum's team on one of the fascinating objects in the Museum's collection.
Elgar was England's greatest composer for over 200 years, but he was much more than that. His interests were many and varied and the talks will not just be based on musical items. Many will illustrate these interests and hobbies. Some items may be favourites already on display, while for others it will be a rare opportunity to see exhibits brought out of store especially for the occasion. The talks will feature items from the private to the public, from the personal to the musical and from the funny to the serious.
Taken as a whole, the items discussed will not only help to present a greater understanding of Worcester's favourite son, but they will also shed light on the times, places and events that Elgar experienced.
The Birthplace Cottage where Edward Elgar was born on 2nd June 1857. His sister Lucy wrote "How well I remember the day he was born! The air was sweet with the perfume of flowers, bees were humming, and all the earth was lovely."
|Day 2||The Elgar Brothers' Music Shop in Worcester High Street. The perfect setting for a young musician with ambitions of becoming a great composer.|
|Day 3||'Good Morrow', the original manuscript score of Elgar's carol/hymn wishing the speedy recovery of King George V from illness.|
|Day 4||The elaborate Freedom Casket containing the Freedom of the City of Worcester, which was presented to Elgar in September 1905.|
||Elgar turned to science as a hobby and owned several microscopes in his lifetime. He even set up a small laboratory, called The Ark, in an out-house while working on the First Symphony where he conducted experiments and made soap!
||Alice Elgar's personal copy of the score of King Olaf, in which she pasted a picture of the Norse god of thunder, Thor.|
|Day 7||Elgar once dressed up as the pirate Nanty Ewart from Sir Walter Scott's 'Redgauntlet' to entertain the children while staying with the Baker family at Hasfield Court in 1901 for the Gloucester Festival.|
||At the beginning of her husband's career, Elgar's wife, Alice, would hand draw manuscript paper for him. Alice used special five-nibbed that allowed her to draw all five lines of the stave herself.|
This beautiful postcard from Elgar to his daughter Carice, sent from Holland in 1904, introduced details of Elgar's visit to The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam where "The Apostles" was performed to great acclaim.
||A Wills cigarette card featuring Elgar which was pasted in to the family's 1902-1908 scrapbook.
|Day 11||A menu card for a complimentary supper for Dr Richard Strauss and Elgar given by the members of the Chef Club on 20th December 1904.|
||As a young man Elgar conducted the staff band at the Worcester City and County Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Powick, and often wrote music for them to play. This is the first violin part of a polka called 'Maud'. A new CD of Elgar's music for Powick Asylum is available to buy in The Elgar Shop.|
|Day 13||The Elgar's purchased Severn House in Hampstead in 1911. It was a large, impressive house with front doors made out of beaten brass in horizontal panels "filled with men in armour on horse and foot, doing all sort of mysterious things". These floor plans show the scale of Severn House.|
|The original manuscript of one of Elgar's major choral works, The Light of Life. The peice was first performed at the 1896 Three Choirs Festival and tells the story of Jesus healing the blind man.|
|Day 15||A train ticket from the Elgar's holiday in Scotland July 1914. Alice Elgar wrote of Ross-shire where they were staying "This is the most wonderfully beautiful place we have ever been in except Bavaria."|
|Day 16||In 1905 Percival Hedley won the sculpture prize in the famous Summer Exhibition in London. This sculpture now resides in London's National Gallery. Hedley also produced a wax version of the bust and 2 fragments of this survived. Nearly 90 years later, using these fragments, Hedley's bust of Elgar was expertly reconstructed.|
||Retired Shakespearean actor Ned Spiers and his wife. Ned was employed as a handyman in the Elgar Brothers Music Shop in Worcester and would no doubt have given the young Elgar an introduction to the great playright.|
|Day 18||'1,000 Miles up the Amazon', a travel brochure from Elgar's cruise up the River Amazon on the luxury steamship 'Hildebrand' in 1923. Elgar was restless after the death of his wife three years previously and was seeking inspiration.|
||A letter from Elgar thanking Marie Joshua, a musical benefactress. Chocolate was an important and greatly enjoyed part of her gift.|
|Postcard of Venice - a souvenir of the Elgars' holiday there in 1909, and the scenes which gave inspiration to the Second Symphony.|
|Day 21||Elgar's manuscript vocal score of The Dream of Gerontius introduced the story of A J Jaeger's significant role in the composition of the climax of the work - just before Gerontius's vision of God.|
||Elgar was a great lover of Torquemada's infamously difficult crosswords and would regularly exchange solutions with his daughter, Carice. In this letter Elgar jokingly brands Torquemada 'The Arch Torturer' whilst requesting that he publishes a collection of his crosswords.|
||Elgar was ahead of his time and embraced the new recording technology of the early 20th century. He was sent a number of gramophones by HMV, one of which we have on display in the Birthplace Cottage today.|
|Day 24||EBM 63 PostCard from Alice Elgar to Carice 28/06/1905/ 5013 letter asking Elgar to attend re Honorouy Doc 15/05/1905.|
|Day 25||Photograph of the ‘Dorabella Cypher’ sent by Elgar to family friend Dora Penny (after whom his tenth Enigma Variation is named) in 1897. Dora published a photograph of the cypher in her memoir in 1937 claiming that she had never been able to decipher it. Despite years of academics and enthusiasts’ attempts to crack Elgar’s mysterious cypher, it remains unsolved to this day.|
|Day 26||Norman Perryman's Enigma painting, inspired by Elgar's famous work, captures all of the characters captured in the music and hangs behind the reception desk in the Elgar Centre.|
|Day 27||The story of Elgar's retreat from London during the War, finding solace in the Sussex woods, and the composition of his string quartet - described by Alice Elgar as "Captured Sunshine".|
|Day 28||Elgar was just 15 years old when he set the poem The Language of Flowers by American botanist James Gates Percival to music in 1872 and dedicated it "to my sister Lucy on her birthday".|
||Elgar's badge from his time serving in the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve during World War One.
||Elgar was a keen cyclist and was known to cycle all the way from Malvern to Wolverhampton on his Royal Sunbeam bicycle Mr Phoebus to see Wolverhampton Wanderers play football!
|Day 31||This colourful sampler, produced by Elgar's mother in 1833, is one of a number in the Museum's collection that were sewn by the female members of his family. Ann Elgar embroidered the alphabet, several patterns, a Biblical verse and her name.|
|Day 32||Elgar's only child, Carice, was born on 14 August 1890. During the First World War she trained in first aid and also worked in the Government Censorship Department from 1915. Following her father's death in 1934 she established the Elgar Birthplace Museum in his memory a year later, following through with his wishes.|
||Elgar’s manuscript of his transcription for brass of 2 Bach Chorales, and the story of the sensation created when they were performed from the top of tower of Worcester Cathedral during the 1911 Three Choirs Festival.|
Elgar’s contract to play in the 2nd violins in the Three Choirs Festival Orchestra during the 1878 Festival in Worcester, illustrating the background to the world’s oldest musical festival, Elgar’s early experiences of the festival and the influence that the music performed had on his development.
||Elgar is well-known for his famous moustache, but the Museum does have a few photos within it's collection which feature a clean shaven Elgar!|
|Day 36||Elgar was a prolific doodler and 'annotated' many of his letters, postcards and newspapers with drawings like this fox.|
|Day 37||Alice Elgar's initials, C.A.E made in wire and covered with moss and other materials, from the family's 1865-1904 scrapbook.|
||After his wife's death in 1920 Elgar kept three dogs, Marco, Meg and Mina, which helped alleviate his loneliness. Two of Elgar's dogs - spaniel Marco and terrier Mina - are buried in the garden of the Birthplace Cottage.|
||Caroline 'Alice' Roberts married Edward Elgar on 8th May 1889 at Brompton Oratory in London. She kept her wedding bouquet and the Museum still has its remains within the collection today.
|Day 40||Elgar taught himself to play a number of instruments, including the violin. Before reaching the dizzy heights of international fame he worked as a violin teacher in his native Worcester and Malvern and hated it! He did meet his future wife at these lessons however when she came for musical instruction in piano accompaniment.
|Day 41||A postcard sent by Alice Elgar to her daughter Carice. She recounts a successful performance of Elgar's work in Dusseldorf and makes use of the 'baby talk' often seen in the Elgar letters and diaries, calling Edward "Faser" (father).|
|Day 42||This bottle contained Mrs Winslow's Soothing Syrup - an over-the-counter medicine which contained a considerable amount of morphine. It was said to soothe any person or animal including restless infants! Elgar named one of his pieces for Wind Quintet, an Adagio Cantabile, after it.|
|Day 43||The Elgar sculpture by bronze artist Jemma Pearson, which was commissioned in 2007, sits at the bottom of the Birthplace Cottage garden. Elgar is captured in a reflective mood, looking out to his favourite Malvern Hills.
|Day 44||Elgar's Smoking Cantata is just 42 seconds long, but a piece that shows the composer's sense of humour. Elgar drew plumes of smoke which curl up the manuscript lines of the three-page score.|
|Day 45||Photograph of Rosa Burley taken around 1915, a friend of the Elgars and headmistress of their daughter Carice's school, the Mount, in Malvern.
|Day 46||Telling the story of Elgar & Yehudi Menuhin's first meeting, their historic recording together and their visit to Paris to give a concert together.|
|Day 47||This clarinet belonging to Elgar's friend, William Leicester, who was in Elgar's teenage Wind Quintet, and who played the music Elgar composed for the Quintet.|
|Day 48||Elgar's passport, issued in 1919. It describes the composer as having "hazel" eyes, a "large, aqualine" nose and "white, grey" hair.|
An ink blot taken from a scrapbook kept by Elgar's nieces, the Graftons.
|Day 50||A charming German Christmas postcard sent by Elgar to his daughter Carice on 23rd December 1901.
|Day 51||A telegram sent to Elgar by the King and Queen on the occasion of Lady Elgar's death on 7th April 1920.
|Day 52||Elgar's doodle of Queen Victoria!
|Day 53||A postcard sent to Carice Elgar on 7th March 1913. Elgar was spending some time in Llandrindod Wells, Wales in an effort to help his poor health. He indicated the room he was occupying in the Gwalia Hotel and drew some dogs on the roof of the hotel for good measure!|
|Day 54||Elgar was persuaded to travel to Paris in 1932 by airplane in order to conduct the young violinist Yehudi Menuhin. At 75 he made his first flight and "seemed to feel like a hero [with] a daring smile on his face like a small boy".|
|Day 55||Elgar's doodle of himself playing golf, one of his many hobbies.|
|Day 56||A framed Mozart quote Elgar kept framed on his desk for inspiration when he was composing. It reads; "The passions, whether violent or otherwise, must never be expressed to disgust - and music, even in the most terrific situation, never give pain to the ear, but ever delight it and remain music", Wien 1781 in a letter to his father.|
|Day 57||The Jubilee Musical Garden, built in 2012 with outdoor instruments to encourage people of all ages to make their own music and be inspired by the sounds like Elgar himself.
|Day 58||Carice Elgar with her rabbit Pietro d'Alba. Elgar dedicated a partsong, Owls, to the rabbit!
|Day 59||One of Elgar's cycling maps with his routes drawn on in red and green crayon.|
|Day 60||A page from the travel brochure that Elgar received when he travelled up the Amazon River, demonstrating the bedrooms on offer for passengers.|
|Day 61||A photograph of Elgar's mother, Ann, taken in 1870. Elgar would have been 13 at the time of this photo.
|Day 62||A concert programme featuring Clara Butts, which took place on 7th October 1899 with Elgar conducting.|
|Day 63||A telegram from the King and Queen sending Elgar their condolences on the death of his wife Alice in 1920.|
|Day 64||Elgar in his blue velvet court dress in 1933. His court dress, including the hat, shoes and ceremonial sword are on show at the Museum today!|
|Day 65||A Christmas greeting taken from Elgar's mother's scrapbook dated 1861.|
|Day 66||A photograph of Elgar's great friend, violinist Billy Reed, taken in 1923.|
|Day 67||A letter written by Elgar accompanied by doodles of men fighting with swords!|
|Day 68||A programme kept by Elgar's mother Ann for an amateur concert on 6th January 1859 (two years after Elgar was born!). The front is made out of a doily.|
|Day 69||Elgar relaxing in a rowing boat on the Spetchley Park lake!|
|Day 70||Carice Elgar's copy of a concert programme from 7th December 1908 with Dr Hans Richter conducting.|
|Day 71||The manuscript score of Elgar's piece 'In the South (Alassio)'.
|Day 72||Ticket stubs from musical concerts attended by Elgar and his family, kept as momentoes in the family scrapbook from 1909-1919.|
|Day 73||A photograph of Elgar's youngest sister, Helen Agnes (known as Dot), who became a Dominican nun in 1902 and eventually a prioress.|
|Day 74||A letter from Elgar to Martina Hyde from the Queen's Hotel, Leeds.|
|Day 75||Elgar at Tiddington House around 1928-29 with his dogs Marco, Meg and Mina.|
|Day 76||An illustration from the Elgar family scrapbook kept between 1914-1921.|
|Day 77||A concert programme for a performance of Elgar's 'Fringes of the Fleet' on 18th June 1917.|
|Day 78||Elgar's spaniel Marco, who was buried in the Elgar Birthplace cottage garden.|
|Day 79||The manuscript score of 'Salut d'Amour' which Elgar wrote as an engagement present for his wife Alice. He set a poem of hers, 'Love's Greeting', to music.|
|Day 80||Elgar's notebook containing some of his experiments in ciphers.|