Two lost Elgar songs discovered

Charlotte Smith28th May 2013
Two new Elgar songs discoveredTwo new songs by Sir Edward Elgar will be premiered on June 2, 2013 (photo: Tully Potter Collection)

Elgar Works, publisher of the Elgar Complete Edition, has announced the discovery of two new songs by the British composer. The Millwheel and Muleteer’s Serenade were unearthed during the editing process for ‘Solo Songs with Piano, 1857-1900’ - Volume 15 in the series. Both works will receive what is believed to be their first public performance at a gathering of the Elgar Society at the Elgar Birthplace Museum in Worcester on June 2, Elgar’s 156th birthday.

BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune' will also present the first broadcast of Muleteer's Serenade performed live by soprano Bethan Waters and pianist Barry Collett at approximately 5pm today (May 28).

Scholars have been aware of the two songs for some time, as the dates of composition were recorded in Alice Elgar’s diary, some two years apart. However, as neither song was published, it was believed that both remained unfinished.

Elgar subsequently incorporated the works into his 1896 cantata King Olaf, and it is only among his sketchbooks for the work, held at the British Library, that his pages of ideas for the two solo songs survive, each extensively annotated with the changes he made to incorporate them into King Olaf.

When Elgar Works editors separated the original works from the later cantata amendments, it was discovered that material existed for two finished songs rather than the fragments that had been anticipated. 

For more about the Elgar Complete Edition visit the Elgar Society website.

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