It's been quite awhile since I posted anything in my MCMYCL* series - so here's my entry for the year 1910:
Early in 1910, Sir Edward Elgar designed his Second Symphony as a "loyal tribute" to his sovereign, King Edward VII.
Sadly, the king died, on 6th May of that year. So the tribute became a memorial, and the second movement, "Larghetto," became a funeral march.
I combine that second movement, here, with video footage of Edward VII's funeral procession, recently made available by the Library of Congress, which I include here complete, plus some vintage paintings & photos.
Fair warning: this piece is kind of long, and very complex, and calls for quite a bit of patience. In fact, if you're anything like me, it might take you many listenings over a period of years before you fall in love with it.
But fall in love you should. Consider, for example, the great climactic passage at 10:45 and following, crowned, in this performance, by shatteringly apt & superbly executed descending portamenti (slides from one note to another) in the strings, while the tympani thunder...tummy-wobbling stuff.
An interesting feature of the funeral procession was the special place given to the late king's fox terrier, Caesar, led by a highland soldier, just after the king's riderless horse. I have provided several photos, but little Caesar is hard to find in the videos. If you look really closely, you can see him trotting along from 6:14 to 6:18.
Allegedly, Kaiser Wilhelm II was offended by this precedence given to a dog, further fuelling the fever that led to The Great War, four years later.
1:30: I'm guessing that the carriage which first hoves into view at this point carries the late king's widow, Queen (now Queen Mother) Alexandra. The procession includes a remarkable number of monarchs - the kings on horseback, the queens in carriages.
2:45 - 5:00: a photo-montage, following Edward VII from early youth to marriage to coronation to death.
5:15: the gun-carriage bearing the King's bier makes its first appearance. Elgar's music rises to the occasion.
6:14: Caesar is briefly visible, lower left, just behind and below the King's riderless horse. He passes out of frame at 6:18.
6:25: King George V seems to be having some trouble controlling his mount. His brother, the Duke of Connaught, to his left, waits patiently. His cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II, to his right & a bit behind, on the white horse, maintains a stately pace. (Again, I'm guessing identities, here - if I've guessed wrong, please let me know.)
8:05 and following: the king's bier makes its second appearance. Once again, Elgar's music rises to the occasion! Go figure.
9:12: There's that carriage, again. Note the soldiers, at the left, who raise their guns in salute, and then lower them, as the carriage passes by. If this isn't Alexandra of Denmark, then who is it?
9:45 - 10:45: photos of little Caesar, with Edward, & in his funeral procession.
10:45 and following: the king's bier makes its final appearance. "Glorious John" Barbirolli & his orchestra do themselves proud.
12:15: another famous photo of the king's horse & the king's dog.
13:35: Elgar's epigraph to his Second Symphony, quoting Shelley: "Rarely, rarely comest thou, Spirit of Delight!"
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*Modern Concert Music You Can Love