Complete Chamber Music: Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor Op. 82 / String Quartet in E minor Op. 83 / Piano Quintet in A minor Op. 84 (Full Score)
Complete Chamber Music: Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor Op. 82 / String Quartet in E minor Op. 83 / Piano Quintet in A minor Op. 84
(b. Lower Broadheath, Worcester, 2 June 1857— d. Worcester, 23 February 1934) Chamber Works
In March 1918, the problem that had affected Elgar’s ear for so long was diagnosed as chronic tonsilitis and it was decided that his tonsils would have to be removed. This represented a major operation for a man of 60 to undergo, but the operation took place on 15th March. Over the next few days, Elgar was in great pain, but he was able to leave the nursing home on 22nd March to return to Severn House, his home in Hampstead. The evening he returned, he noted down a theme that was to become the opening main theme of the cello concerto:
Typically, he did not work on it then, but instead began a String Quartet in E minor on 25th March. Elgar had experimented with string quartets several times before (the main theme of the second movement of the First Symphony had begun life as a quartet), but he had never come near to completing one, or any other piece of serious chamber music, for that matter. But London was not the place to do it. News from the war was bad (the Spring Offensive of 1918, which saw the German army almost in Paris) and London was depressing, with the upkeep of Severn House proving very expensive. Instead, the Elgars went to Sussex.
Alice Elgar had a year before found a cottage called Brinkwells in the countryside near Fittleworth, and the family had stayed there twice. It seemed the perfect spot and they moved there again on 2nd May. It was perfect (although the sound of gunfire on the Western Front could be heard on occasions) and Elgar wrote to Alice Stuart-Wortley, the ‘Windflower’: “I rise about seven – work till 8.15 – then dress. Breakfast – pipe (I smoke again all day!) work till 12.30. Lunch (pipe) – rest an hour – work till tea (pipe) – then work till 7.30 – change – dinner at 8. Bed at 10.00.”
Most of the ‘work’ was non-musical – carpentry, gardening and walking in the coun- tryside! In August, Alice Stuart-Wortley visited; almost immediately afterwards, Elgar called for his piano from Severn House. It arrived on 19th August on a farmer’s cart! As Lady Elgar wrote in her diary, “May it result in booful new works”. The next day, Elgar began to compose – almost for the first time in a year. But it was not the string quartet, still less the 9/8 cello theme – it was a violin sonata.
He finished it on 15th September. The following day, he was at work on a piano quintet. By 7th October, he was working on the slow movement, and simultaneously on the String Quartet. Two days later (on her 70th birthday) Alice E