Discovery of two new songs by Elgar

COMPOSER: Two new pieces discovered by Sir Edward Elgar.

COMPOSER: Two new pieces discovered by Sir Edward Elgar.

First published in News Worcester News: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE discovery of two new pieces by renowned Worcestershire composer Sir Edward Elgar is music to the ears of his many fans.

Researchers at the British Library came across the previously unheard work, which is believed to have been written in the 1890s, in a notebook at the London archive.

The pieces, Muleterr’s Serenade and The Millwheel (Winter), will receive their first public performance this Sunday – on what would have been Elgar’s 156th birthday – at The Elgar Birthplace Museum, Lower Broadheath, near Worcester.

The music is thought to be the first such discovery of unheard Elgar music for two decades.

Chris Bennett from the Birthplace Museum, said: “We are all very excited about this. The words to The Millwheel are by Elgar’s wife, Alice, and we have her manuscript of the poem here. For complete Elgar songs to be discovered is extremely rare. I think the last one was a song called In May Week, discovered about 20 years ago.

“There are lots of sketches of unfinished works by Elgar both here and in the British Library, some have been ‘completed’ by musicologists.

“But these two songs are complete in themselves and are therefore very special.”

The discovery was made by John Norris, who is overseeing the Elgar Complete Edition at the British Library, as his team went through sketchbooks of his material.

Mr Bennett said Elgar had once written a piece of music called King Olaf, adding it had previously been believed the composer considered re-using some of the themes from that work to create two other songs but gave up on the idea. However, he says Mr Norris discovered that Elgar had written and completed the two songs before attempting King Olaf.

“There has been a tremendous amount of interest in these songs,” Mr Bennett said.

Having been born at Lower Broadheath, Elgar went on to pen numerous compositions including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He died in 1934 aged 76. Muleteer’s Serenade and The Millwheel will have their first public performance at the Elgar Birthplace Museum on Sunday from about 5.30pm.

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