Thursday, 21 October 2010

Edward Elgar: A Charming Pen-Portrait by Robert J. Buckley

It might be a little humorous, but it certainly deserves to be remembered. It comes from Robert J. Buckley’s short biography of the composer written in 1905. It was originally published in a London Journal in 1903 and, according to the author has ‘been accepted by many good Elgarians...’"You are prone to imagine there are several Dr. Elgars, according to the clothes and the circumstances in which you see him. There is one in evening dress pacing the corridor of a concert-room, in which a conductor is taking Elgarian works at unauthorised tempi. There is another in rough-tweed and leggings, who frequents unfrequented lanes with chosen friends, who, armed with a spirit lamp and other impedimenta, take tea under hedges ' like tramps.' A third, wearing an elaborate waistcoat, smokes genially in front of his own poker-work 'fire-music’ burnt on the panel over the study grate. A fourth walks slowly along the Worcester High Street, buried in a battered Panama pulled down to his chin. A fifth, attired in the customary suit of solemn black, ambulates lento, as though weary, in the precincts of a cathedral during a Three Choir Festival. This one wears a tall silk hat, crushed down on the forehead, and gives the impression of a distinguished colonel home for a year's holiday, and at present attending a funeral.Dr. Elgar is tall, spare, angular, grave and courteous. He will listen with attention to skilled comment on his work, but gives short shrift to aggressive incompetence. Shadowy legends exist of patronising persons who were made to regret the indestructibility of matter, and to wish themselves well out of the Cosmos.

Sir Edward Elgar by Robert J. Buckley John Lane: The Bodley Head, London, 1905.


Mathias Richter said...

Oh, why don't they write like that any longer?!
It is very much in the vein of those turn-of-the-century Musical Times writers.
Humorous it is indeed but in a very warm-hearted way.

John France said...


Thanks for the comment!! It is humorous in a very gently and subtle way!!