An early performance of the [Enigma] Variations was quite new without being eccentric, universal and yet absolutely personal, and something that could only emanate from this country. This chapter describes Edward Elgar today, from a conversation with Ralph Vaughan Williams. They were sitting together listening to a rehearsal of Hubert Parry's Symphonic Variations. As the readers doubtless know, there is a curious, spiky—though entirely individual—sound about the orchestration of this work. He said to Elgar, “I suppose most people would call this bad orchestration, but I do not agree.” He turned on me, almost fiercely, and said: “Of course it's not bad orchestration—this music could be scored in no other way.” He thinks it is part of Elgar's greatness that he realized so fully that the style is the man.
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