Music blog

2 posts from October 2019

17 October 2019

Upcoming Elgar events at the British Library

We are holding two events in November to celebrate Elgar’s music and the rich collections of his works at the Library.

On Friday 8 November there will be an evening concert with pianist Iain Farrington, featuring works by Elgar that are represented in the Library’s collection, throwing light on the composer’s creative process and unearthing some surprises! 

To find out more details and to book a place please visit the British Library website here:

On Monday 25 November there will be a study day focussing on the sources of Elgar’s works.

Photograph of Edward Elgar composing music at his desk
Edward Elgar. Photo by May Grafton

Elgar’s sources, ranging from manuscript sketches and scores, printed music, letters and recordings, reveal important information about his compositional practices and the origin of some of his most famous works, such as the Enigma variations, his concertos, symphonies, and oratorios. They also tell us important stories about his personal and professional life, his close family relationships and friendships, as well as his remarkable personality. Speakers specialising in the music of Elgar and Music curators will discuss his compositional practices and aspects of his life and reception.


10.00-10.20: Registration 

10.20-10.30: Welcome and Introduction to the day – Richard Chesser (Head of Music, British Library)

10.30-11.15: Keynote – Julian Rushton (Professor Emeritus, University of Leeds)

11.15-11.45: The Elgar Birthplace Museum – Michael Messenger

11.45-12.00: Comfort break 

12.00-12.45: The Elgar Sources: an overview – Professor Dan Grimley (University of Oxford)

12.45-14.00 – Lunch [not provided]

14.00-14.40: Elgar recordings – Jonathan Summers (British Library)

14.40-15.30: Discoveries in Elgar Sources – Speakers: John Norris, David Lloyd-Jones

15.30-15.50: Comfort break 

15.50-16.30: Biographical Issues in Elgar Scholarship – Chair: Dr Jo Bullivant (University of Oxford)

Speakers: Jo Bullivant, Dr Sophie Fuller (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance), Dr Nalini Ghuman (Mills College), Julian Rushton

16.30-17.00: Future plans on the Elgar sources at the British Library – Richard Chesser and Chris Scobie (British Library)

To book a place please visit the British Library website here:

We hope to see you there!


10 October 2019

Additional Discovering Music content published!

We recently published additional content on our Discovering Music: early 20th century space:


Three additional articles are now featured on the space: Shadow and light in war and peace: Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time written by Oliver Soden, Holst and India written by Nalini Ghuman and Promoting New Music in Britain written by Annika Forkert.

Opening of Discovering Music article Promoting New Music in Britain

Collection items

Nine additional collection items have been created to accompany the newly published articles and three further ones have been added to the existing articles on British Composers in the early 20th century, The Second Viennese School and Music and the Creative Process: Elgar’s Third Symphony. The collection items feature autograph manuscripts and letters by Michael Tippett, Gustav Holst, Anton Webern, Alban Berg, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Edward Elgar.

The title page of the published vocal score of Berg's Wozzeck
Alban Berg: Wozzeck. Vocal score. Shelfmark: H.3455.d. © Public domain.


Titlepage of Holst's autograph manuscript of Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda
Gustav Holst: Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda. Shelfmark: Add MS 57873, f.2r. © Public domain.

People pages

An additional People page has been added to the space for the composer Michael Tippett.

Discovering Music People page of Michael Tippett

About Discovering Music

Discovering Music: early 20th century is a free online learning resource that provides unprecedented access to the Library’s music collections.

This phase of the project features over 100 20th-century treasures from the British Library’s collection including sketches, first editions, letters, concert programmes, sound recordings and photographs. 

Reflecting a period of intense musical development, the site reveals the ways in which key musicians of the period captured the world around them by rejecting inherited traditions and experimenting with new forms and themes. The site includes fascinating manuscripts by, among others, Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar, Frederick Delius, Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. Users can also browse articles, information on specific musical works, and teachers’ notes designed to support the study of music at GCSE and A Level. With this material the Library hopes to illuminate the social, political and cultural context in which this music was written.