Elgar & cycling

When I was at University, I watched a documentary about Elgar’s life and music, which sparked an Elgar craze in my mind. The interesting thing was this seemed as much because of what I didn’t like, as it was about what I liked.

In some ways, Elgar could be the anti-musical me. I didn’t like waffle (in music), and avoided repetition, whereas Elgar seemed to have too much to say, too often! (worst offender: the violin concerto!) I liked elegant, shapely melody, but Elgar’s tunes often seemed more like short musical patterns, stitched together in a musical collage.

But why am I not only writing about, but promoting Elgar’s music? Because I was often wrong about it! — not only do I now enjoy much more of his works, but I can also learn from them.

A real key to enjoying Elgar was relating the music to long bike rides! In riding the Herefordshire countryside — possibly parts of which he himself might have cycled — what before seemed like waffle, now made sense.

What seemed like too much repetition was now music for travelling. What seemed like redundancy was now exploration. And looking back I realise that I needed to learn to explore my own music more like Elgar did.

This sense of music to travel to — music to energise your peddling, or walking, or speeding through the countryside, music with a sense of exploration, vastness, and exhilaration — is exemplified by his 2nd symphony. Do take a listen to it. But maybe listen when you’re doing something big enough to match it. And listen again, until you can enjoy all the by-ways, bridleways, and sheep tracks Elgar cycles through.






(The title pun is deliberate…)

I’ve decided to make all previous blog posts ‘private’. It’s an instinctive decision based on how I feel looking back on them, but there are a couple of particular reasons:

1) Looking back, a lot of what I wrote in the past reads as arrogant and sinful. I use the latter word deliberately, as the old posts were not a good witness of Christ, who is Lord of all, even of the very minor world of blogging.

2) I might be using this blog again, and don’t want to bring the old posts back into public attention.

On the other hand, I don’t like to delete stuff, and still have the old posts privately archived. In the unlikely event that there’s something I wrote that you’d like to access, feel free to contact me in the comments.