Civic Fanfare (Hereford) or full orchestra (with an additional version for wind band, arranged by Phillip Brookes / new print)
Edward William Elgar
(b. Lower Broadheath, Worcester, 2 June 1857; d. Worcester, 23 February 1934)
Civic Fanfare (Hereford) for full orchestra
with an additional version for wind band
arranged by Phillip Brookes
The Three Choirs Festival is the oldest classical music festival in Britain. Publicity material from 1619 already refers to it as a ‘regular’ event. By the 19th Century it had become an ‘institution’, the cathedral cities of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester hosting in turn several days of choral and orchestral music, with many new works appearing in the three beautiful settings. If there is one composer whose name is forever associated with the Three Choirs it is that native of Worcester, Edward Elgar. Elgar first played in the orchestra for the Worcester Festival of 1878 and thereafter took part as either a player, conductor, or celebrity almost every year it was held until 1933.
The 1927 festival was in Hereford. Elgar had actually lived in that city for several years before moving to London, and both symphonies, the violin concerto and the Introduction & Allegro for Strings had been written there. His good friend Percy Hull was the organist of Hereford Cathedral and it is with him that the story of the Civic Fanfare begins.
It started with pedantry. It had been the tradition for the Mayor of Hereford and its various dignitaries to process into the Cathedral at the opening concert, during the singing of the national anthem. Until, that is, someone pointed out that the national anthem should not be sung before the King’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, entered immediately after the Mayor and officials. Percy Hull asked Elgar if he would write something to precede God Save The King, during which the Mayoral party might enter. Elgar willingly agreed, the Civic Fanfare being the result.
But there was something else. Recording techniques had recently undergone a huge improvement with the use of electronic microphones, and the Gramophone Company (HMV) was anxious to make an experimental recording of the 1927 Three Choirs Festival. The proposal was that they would send a van equipped with the latest technology to make as many recordings as they could under ‘live’ conditions. And the very first piece of music to be played, on 4 September, would be Elgar’s new fanfare.
But the technical demands were enormous. There could be no interruption to the festival, and so any microphone balancing would have to be done during rehearsals when there was no audience. No one knew how different would be the settings required between an empty cathedral and one packed for the opening concert. In the event the fanfare was recorded twice because the mayoral party failed to appear during the first performance and Elgar had to repeat the piece. Taken overall, HMV’s Hereford experiment was not a success. Of the 26 sides recorded (of works by Elgar, Holst, Parry and others) only eight were published, and those only after intervention by very senior figures at HMV. The Civic Fanfare was not acceptable, but Elgar obtained a test pressing that has been preserved so that we can listen to an Elgar world première under his own baton. Bernard Wratten of HMV wrote, “[Sir Edward Elgar] was a champion of the gramophone at a time when most of his contemporaries – particularly those in the catchment area of the Three Choirs – were either openly contemptuous or patronizingly indifferent”. …
Read full preface > HERE
The Phillip Brookes Collection
210 x 297 mm