Bristol music student to première two Elgar songs discovered by University team
Press release issued: 29 May 2013
Two songs composed by Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) have just been discovered by the team behind the Elgar Complete Edition, led by John Pickard, Professor of Composition and Applied Musicology at the University of Bristol. They will be heard in public for the first time at the Elgar Birthplace near Worcester on Sunday 2 June – the 156th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
They will be heard in public for the first time at the Elgar Birthplace near Worcester on Sunday 2 June – the 156th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The songs will be sung by Bethan Waters, a final year student in Bristol’s Department of Music.
Professor Pickard said: "Elgar’s works are generally well documented, so the discovery of new pieces is an exceptionally rare event. The discovery was made by John Norris, General Manager of the Edition, during the preparation of our latest volume of Elgar’s complete works. We are absolutely thrilled that Bethan will be singing them."
The two songs – The Millwheel and The Muleteer’s Serenade – were previously thought to have been either lost or preserved only as fragmentary sketches which Elgar later incorporated into his 1896 cantata King Olaf.
The manuscripts were found at the British Library, among the King Olaf sketchbooks, heavily annotated with the many changes Elgar made to incorporate them into the cantata. As the editorial process rolled back the layers of history to get at the original sketches the editorial team discovered not half-finished sketches but two fully-formed songs.
One of the songs was previewed on BBC Radio Three’s In Tune on Tuesday 28 May, performed by Bethan, live in the studio, accompanied by Barry Collett. (Available on iPlayer until Monday 3 June.)