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18th Annual Bard Music Festival Elgar and His World

Mark Primoff






“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.” – Edward Elgar

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY – The world-renowned Bard Music Festival, the centerpiece of Bard SummerScape, returns for its 18th season this summer with a celebration of “Elgar and His World.”  The eleven programs of the Bard Music Festival, held over two weekends on August 10–12 and August 17–19, and concluding with an autumnal finale on October 26–27, will explore the life, times, and music of Edward Elgar (1857–1934) with a lavish menu of thematically organized concerts, lectures, panels, and symposia. Assessing Bard’s tribute to Edward Elgar on the 150th anniversary of his birth, BBC Music magazine recently credited SummerScape with offering “the largest, most obsessively detailed Elgar festival anywhere in the world.”

The Bard Music Festival has won international acclaim for its unrivaled, in-depth exploration of the life and works of a single composer and his contemporaries, offering, in the words of one New York Times critic, a “rich web of context” for a full appreciation of that composer’s influences and impact. This year’s offerings includes music by nearly three dozen composers – featuring instrumental, chamber, orchestral, and choral works written for the church, concert stage, and music hall – as well as scholarly insight from important musicological figures. At the heart of the Bard Music Festival, of course, will be Elgar’s ennobling music itself, by turns grandly public and deeply personal, earthy and yet searchingly spiritual.

The Bard Music Festival examines Elgar as a composer whose music uniquely expressed the zeitgeist of a complicated society and era. Elgar provides a nexus for a searching investigation of musical and societal developments in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. His class status, along with his vacillating religious beliefs and evolving aesthetics, invite consideration of his music and personality through the prism provided by revisionist history, psychology, and culture. Elgar’s world is not just that of Wagner, Brahms, Fauré, and Strauss – and such younger British colleagues as Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Walton, and Arthur Bliss – but also includes such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, John Singer Sargent, and Siegfried Sassoon. Music for full orchestra and chorus, solo piano, brass band, string orchestra, solo voice, and everything in between, is featured.

Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra are in residence throughout the Bard Music Festival, playing such popular works as Elgar’s breakthrough orchestral piece of 1899, the “Enigma” Variations, and various marches including Pomp and Circumstance No. 4 (August 11), as well as lesser-known works such as the symphonic study Falstaff and the Symphony No. 2 (August 18). Botstein and the ASO, along with the Bard Festival Chorale, bring the festival’s summer offerings to a close with Elgar’s choral masterpiece, The Dream of Gerontius (August 19).

Works by dozens of other composers have also been programmed – including a host of Elgar’s English contemporaries, ranging from William Sterndale Bennett, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Hubert Parry to Arthur Sullivan, Percy Grainger, Ethel Smyth, and William Walton. The fact that Elgar’s music was appreciated abroad, almost exclusively in Germany, makes the inclusion of such composers as Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss especially appropriate. The music of France, so greatly admired by Elgar, is represented with works by Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy. Patrons of the Bard Music Festival are familiar with its multi-disciplinary approach to the matter at hand, with its astonishing array of resident and visiting musicians, panel discussions, symposia, preconcert lectures by scholars and experts, and concerts. Programs are organized by topics, such as “Elgar: From Autodidact to ‘Master of the King’s Musick’,” “Music in the Era of Queen Victoria,” and “Das Land ohne Musik: Views of British Music in the 19th Century.”  The symposium “Charles Darwin and Cardinal Newman” will explore the topics of religion, science, and technology in Elgar’s time.

As with each Bard Music Festival since 1990, Princeton University Press will publish a volume of new scholarship and interpretation. Byron Adams, scholar in residence for this year’s festival, is editor of Elgar and His World, the 18th in the award-winning series. In addition to Mr. Adams, this year’s speakers, panelists, and moderators include Timothy Barringer, Christina Bashford, Leon Botstein, Deirdre d’Albertis, Richard Dellamora, Christopher Fifield, Alain Frogley, Sophie Fuller, Christopher H. Gibbs, Kenneth Hamilton, Charles Edward McGuire, Diana McVeagh, Andrew Porter, Barrymore Scherer, Derek Scott, and Richard Wilson.

Reviewing the final weekend of last year’s Bard Music Festival, dedicated to the world of Franz Liszt, the New York Times reported, “As impressive as many of the festival performances were, they were matched by the audience’s engagement: strangers met and conversed, analyzing the music they’d heard with sophistication, and a Sunday-morning panel discussion of gender issues in 19th-century culture drew a nearly full house. All told, it was a model for an enlightened society.”

A detailed schedule for the 18th annual Bard Music Festival follows. Additional information is available at


“Elgar and His World”: Weekend One, August 1012, 2007

Grandeur and Intimacy in Victorian England

Among Elgar’s compositions, his Enigma Variations and the series of Pomp and Circumstance marches most clearly embody the poles that defined Victorian England: imperialist expansion and an inward-looking pride, sentiment, and romanticizing nostalgia.

Elgar’s status changed virtually overnight with the first performance in 1899 of the Enigma Variations. Premiered by Hans Richter, the internationally renowned conductor and one of Wagner’s devoted protégés, these coruscating orchestral variations revealed fully for the first time the composer’s astonishing orchestral virtuosity. Elgar’s sudden achievement of a position of preeminence as an English composer is itself a subject of fascination, since as a provincial, middle-class autodidact and Catholic, he was subject to ostracism. Given his initially marginal status, it is ironic that Elgar’s music would come to embody early 20th-century England, not only within the British Empire, but to audiences all over the world.

Friday, August 10

Program One: Elgar: From Autodidact to “Master of the King’s Musick”

Sosnoff Theater

7:30 pm        Preconcert Talk: Leon Botstein

8:00 pm        Performance: Daedalus Quartet; Piers Lane, piano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director


Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Sursum Corda for organ, brass, strings, Op. 11

Harmony Music, No. 4

Chanson de nuit, Op. 15, No. 1

Chanson de matin, Op. 15, No. 2

Salut d’amour, Op. 12

Sevillana, Op. 7

Piano Quintet in A Minor, Op. 84

Choral Works

Tickets: $20, $35, $45

Saturday, August 11

Panel One: Elgar the Man and His Worlds

Olin Hall

10:00 am – noon

Christopher H. Gibbs, moderator; Byron Adams, Diana McVeagh, Andrew Porter

Free and open to the public


Program Two: Music in the Era of Queen Victoria

Olin Hall

1:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Christina Bashford

1:30 pm        Performance: Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; Daedalus Quartet; Simone Dinnerstein, piano; Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Anna Polonsky, piano

Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

        O Salutoris Hostia

        Ave verum, Op. 2, No. 1

        Ecce sacerdos magnus

Johann Baptist Cramer (1771–1858)

        Introduzione ed aria all’inglese, Op. 65, for piano

William Sterndale Bennett (1816–75)

        Impromptu, Op. 12, No. 2, for piano; Piano Sextet, Op. 8

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–47)

Fantasia for piano in E Major, “The Last Rose of Summer,” Op. 15

Songs and glees by T. F. Walmisley (1783–1866); John Stainer (1840–1901); C. E. Horn (1786–1849); Liza Lehmann (1862–1918); J. L. Hatton (1809–1886); and Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900)

Choral works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy; S. S. Wesley (1810–76); and F. A. Gore Ouseley (1825–89)

Tickets: $35


Special Event: Elgar and Anglophilia at the Piano: Elgar, Ireland, and Grainger

Olin Hall

5:00 pm        Performance with commentary by Kenneth Hamilton

Free and open to the public

Program Three: Elgar and the “English Musical Renaissance”

Sosnoff Theater 

7:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Byron Adams

8:00 pm        Performance: Piers Lane, piano; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

In the South (Alassio), Op. 50

Pomp and Circumstance, March No. 4, Op. 39, in G Major

Funeral March from Grania and Diarmid, Op. 42

Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma”), Op. 36

Hubert Parry (1848–1918),

Symphonic Variations

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924),

Concert Variations on an English Theme (“Down among the Dead Men”) for piano and orchestra, Op. 71

Tickets: $25, $40, $55

Sunday, August 12

Panel Two: Das Land ohne Musik?: Views of British Music in the 19th Century

Olin Hall

10:00 am – noon

Christina Bashford, moderator; Kenneth Hamilton, Barrymore Scherer, and Richard Wilson

Free and open to the public


Program Four: Elgar and the Victorian Spirit

Olin Hall

1:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Christopher Fifield

1:30 pm        Performance: Bard Festival Chamber Players; Claremont Trio; Melvin Chen, piano; William Ferguson, tenor; Weston Hurt, baritone


Edward Elgar (1857–1934), Six Songs

Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), Variations on “Sweet Robin,” for flute, oboe, and piano

Arthur Somervel (1863–1937), Six Songs, from Maud

Hubert Parry (1848–1918), Piano Trio in E Minor

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924), Serenade (Nonet), Op. 95

Tickets: $35


Program Five: Imperial Pomp and Pastoral Nostalgia: British Music for Brass and Strings

Sosnoff Theater

4:30 pm        Preconcert Talk: Christopher Fifield

5:30 pm        Performance: Laura Ahlbeck, oboe; Randolph Bowman, flute; Members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; The Gramercy Brass Orchestra of New York, conducted by John Lambert, music director

Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Civic Fanfare, for brass

Severn Suite, Op. 87

Serenade in E Minor, Op. 20

Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47

Granville Bantock (1868–1946), Symphonic Prelude: Prometheus Unbound

Richard Strauss (1864–1949), Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniterordens

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

Gustav Holst (1874–1934), Fugal Concerto, for flute, oboe, and strings

John Ireland (1879–1962), Comedy Overture

Percy Grainger (1882–1961), Irish Tune from County Derry

Tickets: $25, $40, $55


“Elgar and His World”: Weekend Two – August 17-19, 2007

From Romanticism to Modernism: World War I and the End of the Long 19th Century

The fin-de-siècle was a period greatly occupied with questions of theology, science, ethics, aesthetics, politics, and psychology, which were discussed with tremendous urgency in the works of Elgar’s contemporaries, such as Oscar Wilde, the pre-Raphaelite painters, J. M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame), John Ruskin, Walter Pater, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, and John Singer Sargent. But these questions also left their mark on music. Elgar had mainly looked abroad for inspiration, and for the wide range of disparate influences that contributed to the evolution of his inimitable style, among them the music of Brahms, Wagner, Fauré, and Richard Strauss. These influences made him a remarkably cosmopolitan figure before World War I. But with the end of the war, Elgar’s style seemed increasingly obsolete in the face of innovative developments within 20th-century English music.

Friday, August 17

Symposium: Charles Darwin and Cardinal Newman: Religion, Science, and Technology in the Elgarian Era

Multipurpose Room, Bertelsmann Campus Center

10:00 am – noon

1:30 pm – 3:30 pm


Deirdre d’Albertis, moderator; Timothy Barringer; Naline Ghuman; Lara Kriegel; George P. Landow; John Picker; Jennifer Tucker

Free and open to the public


Special SCREENING: Elgar on Film

Weis Cinema, Bertelsmann Campus Center

4:00 pm - Free and open to the public


Program Six: Elgar and the Salon

Sosnoff Theater

7:30 pm        Preconcert Talk: Sophie Fuller 

8:00 pm        Performance: Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Jeremy Denk, piano; William Ferguson, tenor; Jupiter String Quartet; Piers Lane, piano; Laura Poe, piano; Dmitry Rachmanov, piano


Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Concert Allegro, Op. 46

Dream Children, Op. 43 (arr. for piano)

Echo’s Dance, from The Sanguine Fan, Op. 81 (arr. for piano)

May Song


Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924), La bonne chanson, Op. 61

Frank Bridge (1879–1941), Piano Quintet in D Minor

Songs by Maude Valerie White (1855–1937); Ethel Smyth (1858–1944);

Hubert Parry (1848–1918); and Roger Quilter (1877–1953)

Tickets: $20, $35, $45

Saturday, August 18

Program Seven: “God Bless the Music Halls”: Victorian and Edwardian Popular Song in America and Britain

Olin Hall

10:00 am      Performance with commentary by Derek Scott, with William Ferguson, tenor; Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Gloria Parker, mezzo-soprano; Tonna Miller, soprano; Spencer Myer, piano

Tickets: $30

Program Eight: The Great War and Modern Music

Olin Hall

1:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Alain Frogley

1:30 pm        Performance: Bard Festival String Quartet; Claremont Trio; Laura Flax, clarinet; Weston Hurt, baritone; Jennifer Koh, violin; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Scott Williamson, tenor; Dmitry Rachmanov, piano


Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Violin Sonata in E Minor, Op. 82

Carillon, Op. 75

Claude Debussy (1862–1918)

Berceuse héroïque, for piano

Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maison, for voice and piano

John Ireland (1879–1962), Piano Trio No. 2

Arthur Bliss (1891–1975), Clarinet Quintet

Songs by George Butterworth (1885–1916) and Ivor Gurney (1890–1937)

Tickets: $35


Program Nine: Elgar: The Imperial Self-Portrait

Sosnoff Theater

7:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs

8:00 pm        Performance: American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director


Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Crown of India Suite, Op. 66

Falstaff, Symphonic Study in C Minor, Op. 68

Sospiri, Op. 70

Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 63 


Sunday, August 19

Panel Three: Constructions of Masculinity from Dorian Gray to Father Brown

Olin Hall

10:00 am – noon


Byron Adams, moderator; Leon Botstein; Richard Dellamora; Sophie Fuller

Free and open to the public


Program Ten: Elgar and Modernism

Olin Hall

1:00 pm        Preconcert Talk: Diana McVeagh

1:30 pm        Performance: Carolyn Betty, soprano; Bard Festival String Quartet; Piers Lane, piano; Sophie Shao, cello; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; Jeremy Denk, piano; Spencer Myer, piano; Sharon Roffman, violin; Ira Weller, viola


Edward Elgar (1857–1934), String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83

Frederick Delius (1862–1934), Sonata for cello and piano

Gustav Holst (1874–1934), Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Third Group

Cyril Scott (1879–1970), Two Pieces, Op. 47, for piano

Herbert Howells (1892–1983), Piano Quartet in A Minor, Op. 21

William Walton (1902–1983), Three Songs for voice and piano (arranged from Façade)

Tickets: $35


Program Eleven: The Culture of Religion: The Dream of Gerontius 

Sosnoff Theater

4:30 pm        Preconcert Talk: Charles Edward McGuire

5:30 pm        Performance: Carolyn Betty, soprano; Vinson Cole, tenor; John Hancock, baritone; Jane Irwin, mezzo-soprano; Bard Festival Chorale, James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra; conducted by Leon Botstein, music director


Edward Elgar (1857–1934)

Selections from The Kingdom, Op. 51

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Tickets: $25, $40, $55

“Elgar and His World”: Weekend Three – Friday October 26-Saturday, October 27

Nostalgia, Patriotism, and Aesthetic Ideals

Full details available at:


July 5                  Bard SummerScape 2007 opens with Doug Varone and Dancers: the world premiere of Victorious, choreographed to Elgar’s Cello Concerto

July 6                  First of eight performances by Susan Marshall and Company: the world premiere of Sawdust Palace, written expressly for performance in Bard’s Spiegeltent

July 12                First of eight performances of Shaw’s Saint Joan; Gregory Thompson directs.

July 27                First of five performances of the Zemlinsky opera double bill: the first time A Florentine Tragedy and The Dwarf will be staged together in the US.

Aug 3                  First of eight performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Sorcerer

Aug 10–12          Bard Music Festival Weekend One

Aug 17–19          Bard Music Festival Weekend Two


For tickets and further information on all Bard Music Festival events, phone the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit

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This event was last updated on 08-20-2007