Performing music

Havergal Brian

Selected and annotated by Malcolm MacDonald

When the project for erecting a monument to Wagner was first mooted, his wife would have none of it: she with great commonsense advocated concentration of effort on the yearly festival at Bayreuth. Doubtless, Wagner’s operas would have lived without the aid of Bayreuth; indeed, I hope to be forgiven for suggesting that the survival of the Festival is due alone to the continued worldwide popularity of the operas outside Germany. If an Elgar Society should arise1, I would counsel efforts to bring to performance in London the two remarkable secular cantatas, King Olaf and Caractacus. They may be difficult to prepare, but they are worth all the trouble. What we have to fight against is the almost inevitable tendency of the works of a great composer to diminish to what are within the capacity of an orchestra or choral society without further rehearsal.

  1. As we know, it did - but Brian is writing only a couple of months after Elgar’s death. ↩︎

On the other hand, by La main gauche

Musical opinion, July 1932, p. 860