Elgar ‘The Black Knight’

4:30 pm, Sun 23 June 2024

St Andrew's, Holborn

Elgar’s mother was an incredible influence on her young son; she seemed to understand and foster his dreamy imagination. That muse stayed with him and very early in his composing career, around 1892, some eight years before The Dream of Gerontius he penned a setting from Longfellow’s ‘Hyperion‘, Uhland’s ballad, ‘The Black Knight’. A Germanic tale of foreboding. It was designed for the large market destined to many fine Choral Societies in Britain; a late Victorian personification of the culture at the time. Elgar wanted this work for chorus and orchestra alone to be called a ‘symphony’, indeed the movement and structure is there to hear and see. Novello his publishers insisted it be called a Cantata to go along with the expectations of the times. The writing for choir was deemed adventurous and stimulated choirs. Elgar always moaned that with such a piece it wasn’t the performers who couldn’t play but conductors who couldn’t conduct it. Today in that choral tradition the London Chorus will take up the work with relish.

The writing for orchestra is anything but accompanying; worthy of Elgar Sinfonia who will really know the composition as an orchestral early masterpiece.

The Black Knight is rarely played and sung. It is fascinating; the beginning of pushing open the vast doors that were to be flung wide in ‘Gerontius’.

The flyer for the concert can be viewed here.

Getting there

St Andrew's Church,
5 St Andrew St,

Bliss: Piano Concerto

Elgar: The Black Knight


Conductor: Adrian Brown

The Elgar Sinfonia of London