EDWARD ELGAR Land Of Hope And Glory
Ready for a spot of rousing patriotism? Then hold onto your top hats as Bridget Mermikides brings you her guitar arrangement of this ultimate Proms closer.
Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes this British composer’s most famous work, as used to close the Last Night Of The Proms.
In this issue we are tackling a work by one of England’s greatest composers, Edward Elgar (1857-1934). Elgar’s music is now an intrinsic part of British culture but he was, in fact, rather an eclectic composer drawing influence from a range of European composers such as Brahms, Schumann and Wagner. And although his music is associated with lauded events, he came from humble working class origins, and was further marginalised by being a Catholic in a largely Protestant society. His reported humility and sensitivity might seem at odds with some of his more bombastic works but there is a wonderful elegance and bittersweet lyricism throughout his work, including his Salut D’Amour (arranged in GT260) and Enigma Variations (GT225).
This month I’m arranging one of his most famous pieces, taken from the Pomp & Circumstance Marches Op 39, a set of marches composed for orchestra, which was collated over a number of years (19011930). The sixth and final one was only left in sketch form and completed in 2006 by composer Anthony Payne. What has endured from this set of marches is the trio section from March No 1 – composed in 1901 and dedicated to his friend Alfred Rodewald. It was first performed in London in the same year to an overwhelmingly positive response and this short segment of music rapidly gained a life of its own - a piece in its own right. In America, this section is known simply as Pomp & Circumstance, or The Graduation March (due to its ubiquitous use at college and school progressions). In England in 1902 the same section was adapted by Elgar in his Coronation Ode written for Edward VII – the eldest son and successor of Queen Victoria. The melody was provided with words by the English poet A C Benson, celebrating the coronation of the new King and calling for British patriotism, and so Land Of Hope And Glory as we know it today, was born. It has since been performed at countless sporting events, royal occasions as well as a staple of the annual Last Night Of The Proms.
I’ve transposed the version from the Coronation Ode to C Major, which allows an optimal balance of melodic range and supporting bassline and it fits quite satisfyingly. In order to give this the desired rousing quality, it requires a sensitive use of dynamics as well as the use of spread chords in order to emulate the orchestral flourishes of the original.
NEXT MONTH Bridget arranges and transcribes Mozart’s stunning Ave Verum Corpus
ELGAR WAS A RATHER AN ECLECTIC COMPOSER DRAWING INFLUENCE FROM A RANGE OF EUROPEAN COMPOSERS
Edward Elgar: in 1904 received a knighthood from KIng Edward VII