Friday, 26 September 2008

Sir Edward Elgar: Salut d’Amour

I was listening to Sir Edward Elgar’s Salut d’Amour the other day. It is a work that is ubiquitous – especially on Classic FM. It is also a feature of many ‘samplers’ of the master’s music. Of course, this piece has appeared in so many incarnations that it is hard to know what was the ‘original’ version. I guess that it was a salon piece for fiddle and piano that somehow took on a life of its own. I have a piano arrangement at home, which I can just about bash my way through: I have heard it on the organ and also played by a brass band on the sea front at Lytham St Anne’s. However my favourite version is for a ‘light-ish’ string orchestra.

I have always found it rather amusing that the Elgar ‘heavyweight enthusiasts’ feel embarrassed about the fact that this work comes from the same mind and the same pen as Gerontius, the Second Symphony and the Cello Concerto. However, this is great and lovely music even if it is popular and better reflects the drawing room rather than the concert hall!

But the point of this post is to tell a reasonably well known anecdote concerning this piece which bears repetition. One night Elgar was arriving at a concert with a certain Fred Gaisberg “As we entered the Artists' Entrance," Gaisberg recalled, "we passed an itinerant fiddler giving a fairly good rendition of Salut d'Amour. The delighted composer paused and from his pocket produced half a crown. Handing it to the bewildered musician, Elgar said, 'Do you know what you are playing?' 'Yes,' he replied. 'It's Salut d'Amour, by Elgar.' 'Take this. It's more than Elgar made out of it,' responded the donor."
Listen to a delicious performance of Salut d’Amour on YouTube


The Dotterel said...

Lovely piece - the equivalent, these days, of a top ten hit. Should have made him a fortune!

Can Bass 1 said...

As should so many of the daytime acitivites of musicians! By the way, John - do you intend to pen a tribute to the late (Sir - why was he not?) Vernon Handley?

musicmiss said...

One of my cello pupils referred to the piece as "Salut d'Armoire", which, if my schoolgirl French is correct, means "Hello Wardrobe"!

John France said...

So musicmiss, nice to see that you teach your pupils Elgar! Do you use a lot of British music in your teaching? Best wishes John F