ELGAR, Sir Edward (1857-1934). Composer.
Autograph Manuscript of the Minuet from the incidental music to Beau Brummell, full score, 15 pages folio numbered 50 to 64, ca 1928. Laid out for full orchestra on eighteen staves, two with printed orchestration, the remainder entirely in manuscript, some wear, especially to the outer leaves, filing-holes etc., but generally in fine condition.
A remarkable discovery, the 'Minuet' being the only part of the incidental music to Beau Brummell to have achieved independent popularity.
Elgar had been approached by the actor-manager Gerald Lawrence to provide music for a play being written for him by Bertram P. Matthews. It was a romantic idealization of the story, depicting Brummell as a gallant gentleman willing to sacrifice himself and his friendships to save a woman's honour. The notion appealed to Elgar, and he raided old sketchbooks in the process of putting together the score. According to Jerrold Northrop Moore (Edward Elgar, a creative life, 1984, page 778) 'There he found a grave and stately Minuet subject, which he made the unifying theme of a score that was to be his largest work since Arthur nearly six years earlier'.
Elgar himself conducted the first performance on 5 November 1928, but the play faded into obscurity. The Minuet was published in 1929, apparently the only part of the score to have been printed. Other parts of the manuscript score are at the British Library (Additional Mss 49974B ff 13-22, 49974C ff 9, 18b), together with the later version with expanded scoring, which was to form the basis of the published score [Elkin, 1929].
The present manuscript is scored for 2 flutes, oboe, 2 clarinets (B flat), bassoon, cornets, 2 trombones, drums, harp and strings, which indicates a typical theatre band of the time. This was later to be expanded to 2 flutes, oboes, 2 clarinets (B flat), Bassoons, horns in F, 2 cornets (B flat), 3 trombones, Tuba, 2 timpani, side-drum, bass drum cymbals and strings - the full orchestral resources, but lacking the harp used in the original performance.
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