Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MS182
TitleLetters from Granville Bantock and Edward Elgar to Ernest Newman
Extent227 items
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DescriptionThe collection comprises letters of the composers Sir Granville Ransome Bantock (1868-1946) and Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) to the music critic Ernest Newman (1868-1959), with some letters in reply from Newman. The series in its entirety provides an overview of the musical life of Birmingham during the early twentieth century, a time in which Elgar and Bantock were writing some of their key compositions. The letters also show the development of Newman's career as a music critic, and provide an impression of Elgar's tenure of the Professorship of Music at the University of Birmingham, 1903-1907, and Bantock's role at the Birmingham and Midland Institute School of Music.

Granville Bantock's letters to Ernest Newman trace the development of their relationship from acquaintances to close friends. They also contain the reasons for Bantock and Newman's later disagreement and the subsequent cooling-off of their friendship. The series shows how fundamental Granville Bantock was to the development of Newman's career as a music critic and many of the letters contain requests for Newman to provide notes for programmes and to give lectures. Furthermore, they highlight Bantock's central involvement in the appointment of Newman as a member of staff at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. Bantock frequently elaborates on his opinions of his contemporary composers, both good and bad. He discusses concerts he has attended as well as programmes he is preparing. The letters give an insight into his composition process, as well as demonstrating how mutually reliant composers and their critics are.

As with Bantock's letters, Edward Elgar's letters to Ernest Newman illustrate both their working and personal relationship. It is clear that Elgar relied upon Newman's advice and opinions as regards musical criticism, and in many of the letters he asks Newman to recommend suitable texts for the music section of the University library. The letters highlight the differences of opinion between Elgar and Newman, who relationship remained congenial in spite of these. Newman's letters to Elgar discuss the death of a mutual friend, Ernest Rodewald.

The series demonstrates that, in spite of some altercations, the relationship between all three was largely positive and mutually beneficial. The collection gives an impression of the close-knit community of musical individuals in this time period.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers
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
Administrative HistoryBantock, Sir Granville Ransome (1868-1946), composer, was born on 7 August 1868 at 44 Cornwall Road, Notting Hill, London, the eldest son of an eminent surgeon and gynaecologist, George Granville Bantock (1837-1913), and his wife, Sophia Elizabeth (Bessie) Ransome (1843-1909).
Granville's father resisted his son's desire to pursue music, and tried to encourage Granville to take up a career with the Indian Civil Service. After much resistance, however, he eventually allowed his son to study at the Trinity College of Music, followed by the Royal Academy of Music. On leaving the Academy, Granville founded the periodical 'New Quarterly Musical Review', and worked for several years in musical comedy, producing various hit musical hall songs.

His musical career really took-off in the late 1890s, when, in 1897, he was appointed musical director of the Tower Gardens in Cheshire. Bantock quickly transformed the military band at New Brighton into an orchestra of national reputation. He not only performed major orchestral works, but also devoted whole concerts to contemporary, often British, composers (invariably with them as guest conductors). He formed his own local choral society and took up an appointment with the Runcorn Choral Society in September 1897. He now began to mature as a composer; Songs of the East was begun in March 1896, and Elegiac Poem (1898) and Helena Variations (1899) were highlights amid continuing, more sprawling conceptions like Christus (1900).

In 1900, Bantock became principal of the Birmingham and Midland Institute School of Music. He soon transformed the school into a vibrant musical centre, and also took up appointments with orchestral and choral societies in Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Worcester. In 1908 Bantock replaced Elgar as Peyton professor of music at Birmingham University and began intertwining the teaching of the two establishments into one enterprising, broad-based system of education, with many prominent figures becoming associated with their work. Conspicuously active in the musical life of his adopted city, he was instrumental in the early establishment of a city orchestra. His involvement in the competitive festivals movement as a composer and arranger of test pieces and as a much travelled judge now also became a major aspect of his work.

Bantock established his musical reputation whilst working in Birmingham, and wrote his best-known pieces, including the tone-poem 'Fifine at the Fair' (1911) and the overture 'The Pierrot of the Minute' (1908). Much of his music shows an interest in world-literature and works such as 'The Witch of Atlas' (1902) and 'Dante and Beatrice' (1910) demonstrate this. He also demonstrated a life-long interest in the East, as his work 'Omar Khayyam' shows. This is often regarded as his finest work and it was first performed in Birmingham in 1906, followed by performances at the Queen's Hall, London, and in Vienna. He drew influences from his Scottish heritage, such as in 'Hebridean Symphony' (1915), classical antiquity, as shown in 'Pagan Symphony' (1923-8), and the Bible, as demonstrated in 'Song of Songs' (1922).

Granville married Helen Francesca Maude (1868-1961), daughter of Carl Adolph Herman Schweitzer, on 9 March 1898. They had four children together, Angus, Raymond, Hamilton and Myrrha. Helen was a poet and artist and provided numerous texts for songs and vocal works. Granville had a further son with singer Denne Parker, and he is rumoured to have had other extra-marital affairs.

Granville Bantock was a charismatic and eccentric figure who left behind a large oeuvre, often inspired by poetic and exotic themes, much of which has fallen into obscurity. He was an early advocate of Sibelius, whom he played host to. He made friends easily, and often with prominent contemporaries, such as Edward Carpenter. He died in All Saints' Hospital in London on 16 October 1946, after a fall following a minor operation and his ashes were scattered on Moelwyn above Coed-y-bleiddiau, where the family had spent many happy holidays.

Edward 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.

Ernest Newman was born William Roberts on 30 November 1868. His change of name was intended to signify that he was 'a new man in earnest', and he used it in both his public and private life. Whilst he was brought up in the Anglican faith, he later vehemently rejected religion. His musical interest began as a child, when he studied piano, and he later became interested in opera and studied harmony and counterpoint independently. Newman graduated from University College Liverpool in 1886 with a degree in English literature, philosophy and art. He began contributing articles on music, literature, religion, and philosophy to a number of progressive journals whilst working as a clerk at the Bank of Liverpool.

Newman's connection with Granville Bantock became essential to his career as a music critic. He began writing regular articles on music for Bantock's journal, the New Quarterly Music Review. In 1905 he became the music critic of the Manchester Guardian, but returned to Birmingham the following year to write for the Birmingham Post. Later, in 1919, he relocated to London to write for The Observer, and in 1920 he joined the Sunday Times where he remained until his retirement. He had a reputation for independent thought and was a champion of the composers Bruckner, Sibelius, Strauss, and Elgar.

Newman was critical of contemporary music trends, as his philosophy on criticism, 'A Musical Critic's Holiday' (1925), demonstrates. His early publications include critical studies of the composers Wagner (1899 and 1904), Strauss (1908), Elgar (1906), and Hugo Wolf (1907). He wrote further studies of Wagner, including 'Wagner as Man and Artist' (1914), 'The Life of Richard Wagner' (four volumes, 1933-1947), and 'The Man Liszt' (1934). Later, and more widely read, publications include 'Opera Nights'(1943), 'Wagner Nights' (1949), and 'More Opera Nights' (1954). He also translated a number of texts, including most of Wagner's opera texts.
Newman's first wife was Kate Eleanor Woollett, who died in 1918. He then married Vera Agnes Hands in 1919. He was awarded various prizes in later life, including a DLitt from the University of Exeter in 1959. He died on 7 July 1959.

A Brief Introduction to the Life and Work of Sir Granville Bantock by Vincent Budd, available at, viewed 10 April 2017;
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, available at, viewed 10 April 2017
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
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, available at, viewed 22 June 2017.
Custodial HistoryOffered for auction in two separate lots. There is no further information about the provenance of the collection.
AcquisitionPurchased May 2000 in two lots at auction
Archival NotePapers arranged and described by Beth Cutts, July 2017, in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; and in-house cataloguing guidelines.
Related MaterialArchive collections relating to Granville Bantock, and held at the Cadbury Research Library, include:

Granville Bantock Collection. Finding Number: GB
Papers of Granville Bantock: MS140
Francis Brett Young Manuscript Collection. Finding Number: FBY
Letters Additional Collection: Late-19th Century - Mid-20th Century. Finding Number: Ladd
Raymond Bantock Collection. Finding Number: MS63
Josef Holbrooke Collection. Finding Number: MS79
Papers of Alphonse Mingana: Correspondence A-B. Finding Number: DA66/1/3/2/2
Papers of Sir Edward Elgar, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar and Carice Elgar Blake: Diaries of Sir Edward Elgar. Finding Number: EE
Papers of Christopher Evans: papers 1921-1975. Finding Number: CE
Papers of Herman Sutherland Bantock. Finding Number: MS33
Photographs and books of music presented by Miss Fiedler. Finding Number: MS787
Papers of Percy Young: Printed Copy of Granville Bantock's manuscript 'Pagan Symphony' orchestral score. Finding Number: MS860
Music Manuscripts Collection: Mozart's Don Giovanni notated by Granville Bantock. Finding Number: Music Ms 5040
Papers of Neville Chamberlain. Finding Number: NC
University Archives: Papers relating to war work of University of Birmingham staff, 1919-1920. Finding Number: UB/VP/2/1
Letters from Granville Bantock and Edward Elgar to Ernest Newman. Finding Number: MS182
Papers of Muriel Mann relating to Granville Bantock. Finding Number: MS1033

Archive collections relating to Edward Elgar, and held at the Cadbury Research Library, include:

Papers of Sir Edward Elgar, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar and Carice Elgar Blake: Diaries of Sir Edward Elgar. Finding Number: EE
Papers of Christopher Edmunds: CE
Francis Brett Young Manuscript Collection: FBY
Granville Bantock Collection: GB
Letters Additional Collection: LAdd
Norman Painting Collection: MS200
Birmingham Musical Festival Cuttings: MS770
Papers of Percy Young: MS860
Music Scores of Granville Bantock: MS883

Archive collections relating to Ernest Newman, and held at the Cadbury Research Library, include:

Papers of Sir Edward Elgar, Lady Caroline Alice Elgar and Carice Elgar Blake: Diaries of Sir Edward Elgar. Finding Number: EE
Letters Additional: LAdd
Papers of Herman Sutherland Bantock: MS33
Raymond Bantock Collection: MS63
Josef Holbrooke Collection: MS79
Photographs and books of music presented by Miss Fiedler. Finding Number: MS787
Associated MaterialsArchon code 45, Sir Granville Bantock, reference: 705:462; Archon code 45, Letters to Sir Granville Bantock, reference: NRA 10623 Bantock; Archon code: 2027, Letters to Sir Granville Bantock, reference: Add MS 64961;