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8:00am Sunday 3rd June 2012 in Grassroots
Patty White, president, welcomed members to the May meeting. Lily Macintosh then introduced the speaker Wendy Hill, who was returning after her visit in April 2011 to continue her talk Elgar’s Worcestershire Years with the sequel Alice Elgar – an interesting life.
Wendy started her talk by playing a short piece of Elgar’s music, before recapping briefly on her previous talk about the famous composer. She then explained that Elgar’s wife Caroline Alice Roberts was nine years older than her husband, and had come from a very different social background.
Alice, as she was always known, had lived a privileged aristocratic life and was a wealthy woman in her own right. The couple had first met in Malvern when Alice had attended his studio for piano lessons.
Alice was a well educated, cultured lady and when their intended marriage was announced, it caused a rift with her family on religious grounds, as her future husband was Roman Catholic. However, the marriage went ahead and at the age of 41 Alice gave birth to their only child, a daughter, Carice.
Throughout the marriage, Alice was manager of all domestic affairs, leaving Edward Elgar to work uninterrupted on composing.
She was an ardent supporter of his work which she regarded as pure genius and took every opportunity to promote it. His appreciation of his wife was acknowledged in musical terms in his Enigma Variations, where he dedicated the first 1 minute 56 seconds to her. Indications are that it was not until after her death in her early 70s that Elgar began to appreciate the contribution which Alice had made to his lifestyle throughout their marriage with constant support and encouragement.
Several questions were raised at the end of Wendy’s excellent presentation which resulted in a thought provoking discussion on Alice’s role and influence in Elgar’s life. Rosemary Prosser gave the vote of thanks. The next meeting will be held on June 13, when Mr D Barrie will give a talk entitled Steam Train to Shangri-La.