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Lot 52
ELGAR (EDWARD) Autograph draft full score of the adagio and allegro Finale of the Cello Concerto, Op.85, signed and dated at the end
Sold for £16,730 (US$ 28,120) inc. premium
Lot Details
Autograph draft full score of the adagio and allegro Finale of the Cello Concerto, Op.85, signed and dated at the end on conclusion of the complete work "Edward Elgar/Brinkwells/July 1919", subsequently inscribed on the first page, after revision, "To Edward Speyer/recopied/EE", comprising bar 329 to the end, four pages on a bifolium, on printed 25-stave MS paper, original guard and ring-binder holes, much of the cello part deleted and rewritten, with additional revisions, deletions and scrapings-out in the orchestral parts, figures (73-74) circle-stamped in red, large folio, dated from Brinkwells and revised at Severn House, "Brinkwells July 1919"


  • AN EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT AND EVOCATIVE MANUSCRIPT: the Cello Concerto is one of Elgar's supreme works; and his last major completed work, written shortly before the death of his wife Alice, which effectively brought his career as a composer to a close. It can be regarded as his war requiem, encapsulating those qualities of anguish and yearning - as opposed to imperial grandeur - for which his music is so highly regarded today: indeed the Elgar revival of the last few decades owes much to the phenomenally successful recording of the concerto made in 1965 by Jacqueline du Pré and Sir John Barbirolli. It is, in the words of Jerrold Northrop Moore, the "ripest expression" of Elgar's art (Letters of a Lifetime, p.325). This manuscript begins three bars before the work's final climax: the return of the solo cello's three 'nobilmente' chords which had been first heard at the opening of the work (now marked "Adagio, come prima"); then follow the hurried concluding bars (marked "Allegro"), the only occasion in the concerto where the cellist and full orchestra combine. In the words of Northrop Moore: "So the ultimate discovery went into the past. The solo chords of the Concerto's beginning met the Finale primary at its end. The music was finished... Written through May and June 1919 between Severn House and Brinkwells, the Concerto was still marked at the end with the name of Brinkwells. The well this time had given back its reflection of nostalgia utterly complete" (A Creative Life, p.744). In his revisions, Elgar has further simplified both the cello part and the orchestration, thus concentrating one of the striking qualities of the work, the fact that "its four movements were all concise in a way that the movements of the Violin Concerto and the Symphonies were not. The new Concerto's concentration reflected the experience of the chamber music" (Letters of a Lifetime, p.325). The revisions to this manuscript were evidently made during pre-performance trials held at Elgar's London home, Severn House, with the cellist Felix Salmond in July 1919. Edward and Antonia Speyer, together with Antonia's brother Maurice (see the following lot) were present, and afterwards Elgar paid a three-day visit to the Speyers at Ridgehurst. One imagines that it was presented to Edward either at Severn House or Ridgehurst, that July. The concerto received its première on 27 October.

    This manuscript is illustrated by Robert Anderson, Elgar in Manuscript (1990), although misleadingly described as having been copied out for Speyer, and is listed by Kent. The full score, with the final bifolium replaced, is at the Royal College of Music, MS 4229. Sketches are at the British Library, MS 49974B, f.11, and Elgar Birthplace, MS 36, ref.1425.