Sunday, December 11, 2005

Another Elgar 'discovery' - will it never end?

I was told at a concert yesterday by a reliable source that an uncompleted Elgar sketch of a sixth Pomp and Circumstance March has been discovered, and that Anthony Payne is en route to completing it.

Anthony Payne's 'elaboration' of the sketches of Elgar's Third Symphony is very workmanlike pastiche Elgar. But if it had been titled what it really is, Anthony Paynes' Symphonic Variations on fragments of Elgar, and had it been filed in the CD browsers under P for Payne instead of E for Elgar would it ever have sold?

By sheer coincidence as I write this BBC Radio 3 plays Nicola Samale, John A Phillips and Giuseppe Mazzuca's (that's a real mouthful isn't it?) 'reconstruction' of the 'Finale' from Bruckner's Symphony No.9. (Bruckner-Orchestra Linz conducted by Kurt Eichhorn on Camerate CMSE 431 442 CD 12, Track 2). Now that isn't even good pastiche Bruckner, it is just a waste of space.

Why is classical music so obsessed by 'realisations', 'elaborations' and 'reconstructions' when they are derided elsewhere?

In 1987 Konrad Kujau created sixty-two volumes of 'Hitler diaries'. The diaries were based on research of a wide range of Hitler's documents and other records of the Nazi period. Kujau produced them painstakingly, and the quality of his realisation was such that a number of distinguished experts, including Hugh Trevor-Roper, declared them 'authentic'. The German magazine Stern and the UK's Sunday Times published extracts before the hoax was uncovered. For his 'scholarship' Konrad Kujau was sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

In his 1952 book A Composer's World Paul Hindemith wrote:

"You are not permitted to sell unsanitary macaroni or mustard, but nobody objects to your undermining the public's health by feeding it musical forgeries."

Hindemith was a composer ahead of his time in more ways than one.

Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
Image credit - the header photo is a 'realisation', it is not actually the latest Elgar manuscript. It is 'elaborator' Konrad Kujau with a volume of his 'Hitler Diaries' - linked from
Mishalov.com which is well worth visiting.
Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. If bandwidth is a problem with your permission I will host your image.
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Elgar's other enigma

3 comments:

Pliable said...

Forgeries are 'in'.

John Myatt was responsible for the biggest art con of the 20th century, and ended up going to jail for it. Now his story is being turned into a Hollywood movie - and a prestigious gallery is showing his 'genuine fakes'.

Read the full story here

Henry Holland said...

Speaking of completions of fragments, I like the version of Scriabin's insane (in a good way!) Mysterium that was completed by a Russian composer and recorded by Ahskenazy for Decca (and then deleted almost immediately).

It's goreous, sensuous music on the discs but I suspect from what I know of the state that Scriabin left the piece in when he died, it fits the bill of your description of Payne's Elgar 3rd.

Damn composers dying before they complete major works, damn them! :-)

Pliable said...

Henry, remember ....

An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it. Paul Valery.