El­gar ex­plored coun­try lanes on two wheels

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

ED­WARD El­gar is re­garded by many as the most cel­e­brated English com­poser, but per­haps less well known is his en­thu­si­asm for cy­cling.

It was on two wheels that El­gar be­came well ac­quainted with Tewkes­bury and its en­vi­rons.

The com­poser of The Enigma Vari­a­tions was liv­ing in Alexan­dra Road, Malvern when at the age of 43 in 1900 he bought his first bi­cy­cle – a Royal Sun­beam, ac­quired for a princely £21/ 10/ 00 (£1, 200 in to­day’s val­ues).

He took les­sons from a lo­cal man named Squire Lit­tle and in a month had mas­tered the ma­chine.

El­gar’s wife Al­ice took les­sons too, but didn’t share her hus­band’s pen­chant for ped­alling. She did, how­ever, keep a record of each cy­cling trip made by Ed­ward.

From it we learn that the cy­cling sea­son started in March and in that month, 1901 El­gar cocked his leg over the Sun­beam’s cross­bar and struck out for Up­ton on Sev­ern via Han­ley Swan.

Mrs El­gar’s jour­nal re­veals that by June Ed­ward was fac­ing the de­ci­sion of whether or not to re­new the tyres on his bike, the ex­ist­ing pair hav­ing cov­ered an es­ti­mated 1,300 miles since new.

The great com­poser’s angst didn’t end there. When Sun­beam in­tro­duced a new model fea­tur­ing an in­no­va­tion that al­lowed the rider to free wheel, El­gar or­dered one straight away.

This ar­rived in 1903, but Ed­ward’s ec­stacy was short­lived, as the bike had faulty brakes.

Rosa Burley, a fam­ily friend and former head­mistress of the school in Malvern where he once gave vi­olin les­sons, of­ten ac­com­pa­nied El­gar on cy­cling out­ings.

In her mem­oirs Rosa Burley wrote: “Our cy­cling trips be­gan in earnest after Geron­tius... There can­not have been a lane within 20 miles of Malvern that we did not ul­ti­mately find ... to Up­ton, to Tewkes­bury or Here­ford, to the Vale of Eve­sham ... to the lovely vil­lages on the west side of the hills ... as we rode, he would of­ten be­come silent and I knew that some new melody or, more prob­a­bly, some new piece of or­ches­tral tex­ture, had oc­curred to him”.

None of the com­poser’s bikes sur­vive.

His cy­cling maps have though, com­plete with the routes cov­ered care­fully marked in.

If you’re a fan of BBC Ra­dio 4 Ex­tra you may have re­dis­cov­ered (or dis­cov­ered) the de­lights of su­per suave sleuth Paul Tem­ple.

The sig­na­ture tune, called Corona­tion Scott was writ­ten by Vi­vian El­lis (1904-1996) who was a pupil of Chel­tenham Col­lege.

El­lis was a pro­lific and highly suc­cess­ful writer of such stage mu­si­cals as Bless the Bride, Stream­line, Big Ben, Tough at the Top and The Wa­ter Gyp­sies.

He penned about 70 al­to­gether and from the 1920s to the mid 1950s there

» To share your pic­tures and mem­o­ries of lo­cal peo­ple, places and events, please email them to nos­te­[email protected] gmail.com

was al­ways at least one El­lis show run­ning in Lon­don’s the­atre­land.

Chel­to­nian Philip Lane (born 1950), a former pupil of the boys’ gram­mar school, is an­other well re­garded com­poser of light mu­sic.

His big screen cred­its in­clude mu­sic for The Thirty Nine Steps and The Lady Van­ishes. There’s a long list of TV work too, in­clud­ing the jaunty tune to Cap­tain Pug­wash.

Ge­of­frey Bur­gon (1941-2010), who lived near Minch­in­hamp­ton, was one of the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful com- posers of mu­sic for TV, film, bal­let and the con­cert hall.

A former stu­dent of the Guild­hall School of Mu­sic, his cred­its in­clude the themes to Brideshead Re­vis­ited, The Forsyte Saga and Tinker Tai­lor Sol­dier Spy, all of which col­lected gold discs, mu­sic for Dr Who, BBC Dick­ens adap­ta­tions such as Mar­tin Chuz­zle­wit and the score for Labyrinth, which starred Charles Dance.

Ed­ward El­gar used to tour Tewkes­bury and the Malverns by bike

Philip Lane wrote many themes for TV and film, in­clud­ing Cap­tain Pug­wash, above

Vi­vian El­lis write sev­eral well-known tunes

Ge­of­frey Bur­gon wrote the themes to the Forsyte Saga and Brideshead Re­vis­ited

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