"For thirty years after his death in 1934, his music was considered to be 'out of fashion'. It was said to epitomise the Edwardian era and to have no relevance to a later age. I believe, however, that it is far too great to be tied to one short period of history and that, in any case, it is music of so personal a nature that it can be described accurately not as 'Edwardian' but only as 'Elgarian'."
(Oxford University Press -1968)
First performed at the Birmingham Festival in 1912, and including themes from the Enigma Variations (1898 – 99), The Dream of Gerontius (1900), Sea Pictures (1897), Violin concerto (1909 – 1910), Symphony No 1 (1907 – 1908), Symphony No 2 (1903 – 10), Introduction and Allegro for Strings (1901 – 05) ( you will even find Thomas Arne’s Rule Britannia and the Marseillaise included) , this work does seem to show that Elgar considers himself to be ‘a dreamer of dreams’ and that for him, this work is intensely personal.
Despite non too favourable reviews at its first performance, Elgar said of The Music Makers “ I have written out my soul….” And the intense and soul-searching roller-coaster of emotions this piece exhibits are testimony to this.
Using the entire ode by O’Shaugnessy, Elgar urges the listener (and the performer) to understand just how important music is and how compelling the drive is in all artists (for Elgar did not merely confine his thinking to musicians, but all performers) to be creative in their chosen field ; that they are to ‘renew the world as of yore’, and that a musicians belief is that ‘with wonderful deathless ditties’, they can ‘ build up the worlds great cities’.
The work is punctuated throughout with the phrase ‘We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams’, as though Elgar felt the need to re-iterate this point and remind us that, in the midst of all else, we have a responsibility to ensure that the music is carried forward.
In a final declaration that ‘today is thrilling’, Elgar asks us to believe in ‘the dream that was scorned yesterday’ and reminds us that ‘with our dreaming and singing’, ‘intrepid you hear us cry’.
‘Yea, in spite of a dreamer, a dreamer who slumbers, and a singer who sings no more, We are the music makers, and we are the dreamer of dreams’.