Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)EE
TitlePapers of Sir Edward Elgar, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar and Carice Elgar Blake
Extent112 items
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DescriptionThe collection contains diaries of Sir Edward Elgar for the period 1892-1928, diaries of Edward Elgar's wife Caroline Alice Elgar for the period 1889-1920 and diaries of their daughter Carice Elgar, later Mrs Elgar Blake, for the period 1922-1939. These diaries provide a wealth of information concerning the daily life of the composer and his family and include insights into Edward Elgar's musical composition and inspiration, their family life and friendships, their social activities, holidays, health and hobbies. The diaries include travel diaries made by the composer on trips to Bavaria in 1893 and 1894 and on a Mediterranean cruise in 1905. Lady Caroline Alice Elgar's diaries include her thoughts on her husband's compositions and performances of his works. The collection includes four bound volumes containing photocopied transcripts of selected diary entries.

The collection also contains: correspondence of Sir Edward Elgar with John West of Novello's music publishers, dated c 1900-1923, which gives an insight into the relationship between Elgar and his publishers; correspondence of Sir Edward Elgar with Frederick Gaisberg (Barbarossa) of The Gramophone Company, 1919-1933, including enclosures sent by Elgar to Gaisberg, of a postcard by George Bernard Shaw and a photograph of Edward Elgar; correspondence of Sir Edward Elgar to Owen Mase of the BBC, 1933, concerning the announcement of his 3rd Symphony; correspondence of Sir Edward Elgar with Herbert Lambert, photographer, 1931-1932. The collection also contains correspondence of Carice Elgar Blake to Frederick Gaisberg of The Gramophone Company, 1933-1940.

Finally, the collection contains books, scores and other printed material dated 1900-1933. These include musical scores by Sir Edward Elgar, of 'The Dream of Gerontius' (a printed vocal score) and 'The Music Makers' (an autograph manuscript score). Books within the collection include Sir Edward Elgar's own copies of printed literary works by George Bernard Shaw and a copy of 'Chantecler' by Edmond Rostand given by Sir Edward Elgar to his wife, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar.
ArrangementThe collection is arranged into four main series by record type: diaries; letters; books, scores and printed material; transcripts.

Diaries are then further arranged into three sub-series by author: diaries of Sir Edward Elgar; diaries of Lady Caroline Alice Elgar; diaries of Carice Elgar Blake.

Letters are arranged into five sub-series by correspondent: letters of Sir Edward Elgar to John West of Novello music publishers; letters of Sir Edward Elgar to Frederick Gaisberg (Barbarossa) of The Gramophone Company, 1919-1933; letters of Sir Edward Elgar to Owen Mase of the BBC, 1933; letters of Sir Edward Elgar to Herbert Lambert, photographer 1931-1932; letters of Carice Elgar Blake to Frederick Gaisberg of The Gramophone Company 1933-1940.

Books, scores and printed material are arranged into three sub-series: works by Edward Elgar; works by George Bernard Shaw; miscellaneous printed works.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered readers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below. A paper copy is also available in the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections Department.
Access StatusOpen
Creator NameElgar, Sir, Edward William, 1857-1934, 1st Baronet of Broadheath, composer
Elgar, Lady, Caroline Alice, 1848-1920, nee Roberts, 1st wife of 1st Baronet of Broadheath, author, wife of Sir Edward Elgar
Blake, Carice Irene, 1890-1970, nee Elgar, daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Caroline Alice Elgar
Administrative HistoryEdward William Elgar was born on 2 June 1857, son of William Henry Elgar and Ann (Greening) Elgar. His father, William Henry Elgar, served as organist at St. George's Church, Worcester and was a local piano tuner and teacher. As a child, Edward Elgar studied piano, organ and violin. His earliest surviving musical work titled 'Humoreske, a tune from Broadheath' was composed in 1867. Elgar continued to compose whilst working in a solicitor's office in 1872 and, from 1873, he studied scores to develop his musical knowledge whilst working in his father's piano shop. He was to remain largely unknown as a composer until the 1890s, composing locally in Worcester for the Choir of St. George's Church and the Crown Hotel Glee Club. He began to give violin lessons and, in January 1879, he was appointed as musical director for the 'County Lunatic Asylum' in Powick, a post he held for almost five years. Elgar's first published work came in 1878, a 'Romance in E Minor' for violin and piano, published by Schott. In 1885, Edward Elgar succeeded his father as organist for St. George's Church.

In 1882 he became engaged to Helen Weaver, but by the summer of 1884, Helen had broken off the engagement. Edward Elgar became engaged again in September 1888 to Caroline Alice Roberts, daughter of the late Major General Sir Henry Roberts. They were married on 8 May 1889 at The Oratory in Brompton, London. Alice was 9 years older than Edward and was a poet and novelist. Many of her poems were later used by Edward as words for songs. Just prior to their marriage, in August 1888, Elgar wrote 'Liebesgruss' [Love's Greeting] which he dedicated to his wife . This was to become one of his most famous compositions, later published by Schott as 'Salut d'Amour'.

After their marriage, Alice and Edward rented houses in London, where they were able to attend concerts and operas. In May 1890 he began composing his overture 'Froissart', with the first public performance held in Worcester on 10 September 1890. On 14 August 1890, their daughter, Carice Irene Elgar, was born and in June 1891, the family returned to Worcestershire, moving to 'Forli', Alexandra Road, Malvern. Edward Elgar returned to music teaching, as composition was not yet yielding a suitable income.

During the summer of 1892, Alice and Edward Elgar accompanied a friend, Minnie Baker, to the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. This was followed by trips to Bavaria in 1893, 1894, 1895 and 1897 and these visits had considerable influence of Edward Elgar's composition. In 1895, he produced songs 'From the Bavarian Highlands'. In 1897, orchestral versions of three of these songs were published as 'Three Bavarian Dances'. Major compositions between 1892 and 1897 included 'The Black Knight' (1892), an 'Organ Sonata in G' (1895), 'Scenes from the Sagas of King Olaf' (1896), 'The Light of Life' [Lux Christi] composed for the 1896 Worcester Three Choirs Festival and an 'Imperial March' dedicated to Queen Victoria (1897).

In 1898, Elgar began sketching 'Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma)' which he dedicated 'To my friends pictured within'. The 14 variations are intended to reflect aspects of the character of his friends, along with his wife and himself. For the Birmingham Festival in 1900, Elgar composed a choral work 'The Dream of Gerontius' based on a poem by Cardinal Newman. In 1901 he completed an overture 'Cockaigne' and the first two 'Pomp and Circumstance' marches, including March No.1 in D. Major ('Land of Hope and Glory').

Elgar's popularity continued to grow and 'The Dream of Gerontius' was performed in Dusseldorf in 1901 and 1902. It was performed again at the Worcester Festival in September 1902. It was during October 1902 in Sheffield, that Elgar's friend Frank Schuster introduced him to local MP Charles Stuart Wortley. His wife, Alice Stuart Wortley, who Elgar named 'windflower', was to become a source of inspiration for many of his subsequent works.

For the 1903 Birmingham Festival, Elgar composed a new choral work 'The Apostles'. The Elgars spent Christmas 1903 and January 1904 in Alassio, Italy, which inspired an overture titled 'In the South (Alassio)'. Edward Elgar was by now one of the most popular English composers and on 24 June 1904 he received a Knighthood. The Universities of Durham and Leeds also offered him honorary doctorates of music. On 26 November 1904, Elgar accepted an offer of the post of Peyton Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham. His inaugural lecture was given on 16 March 1905. His lectures created controversy in the winter of 1905-1906 and he resigned the post in August 1908.

During 1905-1906, key compositions included an 'Introduction and Allegro for Strings', a further part of the Apostles titled 'The Kingdom' and 'In Smyrna', for piano, inspired by a Mediterranean cruise taken with the British fleet at the invitation of Lord Charles Beresford.

Elgar received international fame and recognition. In June 1905, Elgar was awarded an honorary doctorate from Yale University. During 1907, he received an honorary degree at Pittsburgh and he travelled in America during 1906 and 1907 conducting concerts in Cincinatti, Chicago and New York.

Elgar's 1st Symphony in A flat premiered on 3 December 1908 in Manchester. His Violin Concerto premiered on 10 November 1910 with Fritz Kreisler as soloist. Elgar completed his 2nd Symphony in E Flat in February 1911. He orchestrated a Coronation March for King George V in 1911 and was appointed to the Order of Merit. In March 1911, Elgar was also appointed as conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

On New Year's Day of 1912, the family moved to Severn House in Hampstead, London. During 1912, Elgar composed an Imperial Masque 'The Crown of India', and also a choral work 'The Music Makers' for the Birmingham Festival in October 1912. In 1913, Elgar composed an orchestral work 'Falstaff' for the Leeds Festival and was also approached by The Gramophone Compnay (His Master's Voice) who asked Elgar to produce two short pieces for gramophone recordings.

During the First World War, Elgar produced three pieces for chorus and orchestra based on poems by Laurence Binyon, 'For the fallen', 'To Women' and 'The fourth of August', collectively known as 'The Spirit of England'. In 1915 he composed a symphonic prelude 'Polonia' in aid of the Polish Victims Relief Fund. He was also approached by the actress Lena Ashwell to produce a score for a play 'The Starlight Express' and he produced music for a ballet 'The Sanguine Fan' in 1917. Also during 1917, Elgar orchestrated 'The Fringes of the Fleet' based on four poems by Rudyard Kipling.

In May 1917, the family moved to a cottage 'Brinkwells' near Fittleworth, Sussex. Whilst at Brinkwells, Elgar began sketching his Cello Concerto and also a violin sonata and wind quintet. The Cello Concerto was premiered on 27 October 1919, although insufficient rehearsal time resulted in a poor performance.

Lady Caroline Alice Elgar died on 6 April 1920 from lung cancer. She was buried in Little Malvern. In March 1921, Carice Elgar became engaged to Samuel Blake, a Surrey farmer and they were married on 16 January 1922. Elgar composed much less after the death of his wife. During 1922, he composed a score for 'Arthur', a play by Laurence Binyon.

In April 1922, he moved to Napleton Grange near Kempsey. On 5 May 1923, Elgar was made Master of the King's Musik after the death of Sir Walter Parratt. Before Christmas 1927, Elgar moved to Battenhall Manor, outside Worcester, but from the spring of 1928 he rented Tiddington House near Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1929, Edward Elgar moved to Marl Bank, Rainbow Hill in Worcester, where he resided until his death. There, in 1930, he composed a brass band score 'The Severn Suite' and a 'Nursery Suite'. On 2 June 1931, Elgar received a baronetcy. He continued to produce recordings for The Gramophone Company (HMV) and, on 12 November 1931, opened the new HMV Studios in Abbey Road, St. John's Wood.

During November 1931, Elgar met Vera Hockman, who was a violinist for the Croydon Philharmonic Orchestra and his relationship with Vera was to continue until his death in 1934. In 1931 and 1932, Elgar's friends, including George Bernard Shaw, requested that he compose a third symphony. This was commissioned by the BBC. However Elgar was unable to complete the symphony before his death. In October 1933, an operation for sciatic pain revealed previously undiagnosed cancer and he died on 23 February 1934. In May 1935, the City of Worcester purchased the cottage in Lower Broadheath, Worcestershire, where Edward Elgar was born. This opened as a museum in 1938, with his daughter Carice Elgar Blake as its first curator.

[Sources: The Dictionary of National Biography: The Concise Dictionary Part II ( Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1982 ); Diaries of Sir Edward Elgar, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar and Carice Elgar Blake; Michael Kennedy, 'The life of Elgar', Cambridge University Press, 2004]
Custodial HistoryThe autograph manuscript score of Elgar's cantata 'The Music Makers' (EE/3/6) was presented to the University of Birmingham as a gift by Sir Edward Elgar in 1920. The remainder of the collection was originally in the possession of Elgar's daughter, Carice Elgar Blake. After her death in 1970, the diaries, letters and other items passed to Carice's friend, Mrs Sybil Wohlfeld. In April 1975, Mrs Wohlfeld deposited the papers, with the exception of one small notebook dated 1912 (EE/1/1/4), on indefinite loan at Hereford and Worcester County Record Office. On the death of Mrs Wohlfeld in 1990, the papers were bequeathed to Mr Raymond Monk, an Elgar scholar. The collection was withdrawn from Worcester Record Office in 1993 and was subsequently purchased from Mr Raymond Monk in 1995 by the Trustees of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the University of Birmingham, with financial assistance from the Friends of the National Library and the Douglas Turner Charitable Trust.
AcquisitionThe majority of the collection was purchased in 1995 from Mr Raymond Monk with financial assistance from the Barber Trust, the Friends of the National Library, the Douglas Turner Charitable Trust and the University of Birmingham Faculty of Arts. The autograph manuscript score of 'The Music Makers' (EE/3/6) was a gift to the University of Birmingham from Sir Edward Elgar in 1920.
Archival NoteCatalogued by Angela Skitt, December 2011. Prepared in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.
CopiesMicrofilms of the diaries, letters and some other items in this collection have been produced and published by 'Primary Source Media' in their series 'Twentieth Century Composers'. Copies of these microfilms are available to view at Cadbury Research Library : Special Collections (University of Birmingham). These microfilms do not include the published works by George Bernard Shaw and Edmond Rostand.
Related MaterialCadbury Research Library : Special Collections holds further letters and papers of Edward Elgar in the following collections: Letters Additional Collection (reference: LAdd); MS810 Letters of Edward Elgar to William Broome, publisher, relating to 'May Song'; MS809 Manuscript score of Elgar's 3rd Symphony, completed from Edward Elgar's sketches by composer, Anthony Payne; MS182 correspondence of Ernest Newman (1868-1959), musical critic with Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934). Cadbury Research Library : Special Collections also holds the papers of other Birmingham composers including Granville Bantock (GB) and Christopher Edmunds (CE).
Associated MaterialsBritish Library, Music Collections, Archon Code: 2027 (1930, music manuscript 'Severn Suite' full orchestral score, Ms Mus.1718)
Leeds University Library, Special Collections, Archon Code: 206 (1898-1913, 24 letters from Edward Elgar to Herbert Thompson, NRA 19566)
London University Senate House Library, Archon Code: 96 (1930-33, 12 letters from Edward Elgar to Charles Long, MS 841)
British Library Manuscript Collections, Archon Code: 58 (1899-1932, correspondence of Edward Elgar with Percy Pitt, Eg MS 3303)
Worcestershire Record Office, Archon Code: 44 (1901-04, Letters from George Hope Johnstone, chairman of the Birmingham Music Festival (transcripts), BA 9515)
West Sussex Record Office, Archon Code: 182 (1927-33, 10 letters from Edward Elgar to Walter Hussey, Hussey MSS.315)
Worcestershire Record Office, Archon Code: 44 (Letters of Edward Speyer)
Herefordshire Record Office, Archon Code: 44 (1897-1933, Letters from Edward Elgar to Sir Percy Hull, BA 88)
Worcestershire Record Office, Archon Code: 45 (1904-1933, Correspondence with the De Navarro family, BA 8213; 1919-24, Letters (copies) from Edward Elgar to Beatrice Harrison, BA 8213)
Royal Academy of Music Library, Music Manuscripts, Archon Code: 1561
British Library Manuscript Collections, Archon Code: 58 (1886-1933 Letters from Edward Elgar to Sir Hubert Leicester, Add MS 60357)
Elgar Birthplace Museum, Archon Code: 2196 (correspondence and papers, NRA 12104, NRA 12648)
British Library Manuscript Collections, Archon Code: 58 (Music manuscripts Add MSS 47900-08, 49973-74, 52525-35, 57984-58068, 64061-63, 69442-44, 69827-45)


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