The Music Makers, Op. 69.
This piece is a work for contralto or mezzo soprano, chorus and orchestra composed by Edward Elgar. It was dedicated to "my friend Nicholas Kilburn". It was first performed at the Birminham Festival on 1st October 1912, conducted by the composer, with Muriel Foster as the soloist.
The text of the work is the 1874 poem Ode by Arthur O`Shaughnessy, which Elgar set in its entirety. He had been working on the music intermittently since 1903, without a specific commission. The mood of the Ode is clear in the first lines, which depict the isolation of the creative artist :
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams....
The music is for the most part reserved and personal, and Elgar quotes his own music several times. Sometimes there is a specific verbal cue : for example the word "dreams" is accompanied by a theme from The Dream of Gerontius, and "sea-breakers" by the opening of Sea Pictures. The music also quotes the first and second symphonies, the Violin Concerto, "Nimrod" (from Enigma Variations), Rule Brittania and La Marseillaise. However, most of the music is original, and Elgar more than does justice to O`Shaughnessy, displaying a perfect ear for the sounds of the chorus and the mezzo-soprano.
Te Deum and Benedictus.
The Te Deum and Benedictus was written for chorus and orchetra for Elgar`s friend G R Sinclair (GRS of the Enigma Variations), organist of Hereford Cathedral, to mark the Hereford Three Choirs Festival in 1897. It was first heard there on 12th September 1897. Here Elgar takes two morning service canticles and treats them as a whole. This was the year of the Imperial March and The Banner of Saint George and Elga was clearly aiming at a big, popular setting, revelling in writing for large forces in a big space; the grand festival occasion was already meat and drink to him. The opening motif recurs throughout and in the Benedictus reappears at the words "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest". Elgar has the Te Deum and serenely, only lightly accompanied, if at all. Later however he signals the Gloria ("Glory be to the Father....") with a crash on the symbols and now returns to the world of the Te Deum with a grand and celebratory treatment of the words.
Sea Pictures, Op. 37.
Sea Pictures is a song cycle by Edward Elgar consisting of five songs written by various poets. It was set for contralto and orchestra, though a distinct version for piano was often performed by Elgar. Many mezzo-sopranos have sung this piece.
The songs are :
"Sea Slumber Song" by Roden Noel.
"In Haven(Cpari) by Caroline Alice Elgar, the composer`s wife.
"Sabbath Morning at Sea" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
"Where Corals Lie" by Richard Garnett
"The Swimmer" by Adam Linsay Gordon.
Much of the vocal line of the first song "Sea Slumber Song" , is heard again iin other parts of the cycle; most notably, the second stanza is heard again almost in its entiretyt as part of the finale.
Elgar composed the piece on his 1844 Broadway Square piano while residing at Birchwood Lodge, Great Storridge in Herefordshire. The songs were orginally written in high keys for a soprano voice, but transposed to lower keys for the orchestral version, largely at the request of Clara Butt. The songs were composed in July 1899 (apart from "In Haven (Capri)", which was a reworking of his 1897 "Love alone will stay"
The premiere was on 5th October 1899 at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival with Elgar himself conducting and clara Butt singing, dressed as a mermaid. On 7th October, Clara Butt gave the first London performance at St. James`s Hall, with Elgar at the piano. Nearly two weeks later, on 20th October, Butt performed it for Queen Victoria at Balmoral.