The Elgars - Father & Son

  • 26 Oct 2020
  • Worcester People and Places
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In the High Street, Mr W.H. Elgar (the father of Edward) had a shop which he founded in the early 1860's. He had come to Worcester in 1841 from Dover as a pianist and tuner for a London firm of pianoforte makers. He was joined by his brother, and the business was known as Elgar Brothers. It was later transferred to his son, Frank Elgar.

The father, W.H was well to the fore of the musical life of the City. He was an active member of the City Glee Club, and played the violin in the Three Choirs Festival orchestra, and was also organist at the Catholic Church for 35 years, until he was succeeded by his son Edward.

The story of Edward Elgar has been often told. Briefly, after a short spell in a solicitors office, he left on his own accord to start the struggle of the life of a provincial, professional musician, He had a teaching engagement at a girl's school at Malvern, and led the band at the Mental Asylum at Powick, where he composed dances for that institution. He also gave private lessons at Malvern, and at the age of 32, married one of his pupils, Alice Roberts, the daughter of a major-general, who immediately showed his displeasure by virtually disowning them. 

There were years of unrewarding struggling in London and back in Malvern. The, when he was around 40, his work was at last recognised, though in Germany, and not for some time in England. His Enigma Variations, the Dream of Gerontius, and his Pomp and Circumstance Marches were all composed in Malvern. After his wife's death in 1920, he came back to Worcester to live, his last home being Marl Bank, on Rainbow Hill.