MUSIC lovers turned out in their droves to hear the first public performances of newly-discovered pieces by Sir Edward Elgar.
The pieces, Muleteer’s Serenade and The Mill Wheel (Winter), received not one but two airings on Sunday – what would have been Elgar’s 156th birthday – because so many people visited the Elgar Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath, near Worcester.
Researchers found the pieces in a notebook held at the British Museum in what is believed to be the first such discovery of unheard Elgar music for two decades.
Chris Bennett, the museum’s supervisor, said: “We weren’t sure how many would turn up because it has all happened so quickly, but they turned up in their droves. We couldn’t accommodate everybody at once, so there were two performances.” Mr Bennett said the world premiere had the feel of a grand event, rather than just a concert, with the audience keen to be part of a landmark performance.
“We have been reminded of how relevant Elgar still is to people and how much he means to people. The amount of interest we have received has taken us a little by surprise,” he said.
The complete pieces, which are believed to have been written in the 1890s, were revealed by John Norris, who is overseeing the Elgar Complete Edition at the British Library, as his team went through sketchbooks of his material.
On Sunday, they were performed by Bethan Waters and Donald Hunt, while Muleteer’s Serenade was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday, May 28.
The words to The Mill Wheel were written by Elgar’s wife, Alice.
Born at Lower Broadheath, Elgar went on to pen numerous compositions, including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello and two symphonies. He died in 1934, aged 76.
The museum is now planning to have an exhibition – featuring the songs and their discovery – up and running by Friday, June 14, in a bid to introduce them to a wider audience.
For details, go to elgarmuseum.org.