Edward Elgar: Sacred Music
Edward Elgar was for many years the most popular composer in Britain; his music was, and remains, inextricably linked with the final, glorious years of the Empire. Yet Elgar himself was almost entirely untypical of the British Establishment. Born a shopkeeper’s son, part of an active Catholic family and community, Elgar struggled for many years against the prejudices his background raised in music circles.
Ironically, composition for the Anglican Church was an important early platform for Elgar, and it is through the sacred music that this pioneering study approaches his life and work. It traces the development of a composer whose work was criticised for its Catholic overtones, yet who was knighted and the recipient of numerous professorships. John Allison weaves biography, composition and religion as never before to produce a necessary and illuminating new work. In addition to surveying the sacred music, much of it for the first time, he gives an invaluable listing of the works, their scoring and first production.