Edward Elgar, the composer of such unguitaristic tunes such as “Land of Hope and Glory” used to gather with a group of friends behind the Elgar Brother’s music shop near Worcester in order to play music every Sunday afternoon when he was young and not yet a knight.
In his own words:
“In the early days of which I have been speaking five of us established a wind quintet.
We had two flutes, an oboe, a clarionet, and a bassoon, which last I played for some time, and afterwards relinquished it for the cello.
There was no music at all to suit our peculiar requirements, as in the ideal wind quintet a horn should find a place and not a second flute,so I used to write the music.
We met on Sunday afternoons, and it was an understood thing that we should have a new piece each week.
The sermons in our church used to take at least half an hour, and I spent the time composing the thing for the afternoon.
It was great experience for me, as you may imagine, and the books are all extant, so some of that music still exists.
We played occasionally for friends, and I remember one moonlight night stopping in front of a house to put the bassoon together.
I held it up to see if it was straight before tightening it. As I did so, someone rushed out of the house, grabbed me by the arms, and shouted,’It will be five shillings if you do.’ He thought I had a gun in my hand.” – from an interview in The Strand
They rehearsed in a shed behind the Elgar music shop and “Shed” became the title for Elgar’s long pieces after Harmony Music No. 3.
Compositions for the group finished in 1879, except for the two movement Shed No. 7, composed in 1881 with added violin.
Here are examples of Harmony Music which was played in the shed, and very cheery it is too – should do well over a cup of tea after Sunday lunch.
Of course, the very mention of “shed” had my attention immediately, and I am very grateful to Marcus Martin at West Dean for drawing this to my attention, as I use my own “shed” as a venue for friends to play in and practise. I am mindful that the next such event will be the renowned Les Frères Méduses (the Jellyfish Brothers) who will be meeting here from their respective homes in Norway and France soon.
But there is a further reason for mentioning the illustrious Edwardian national composer which is that in 1907 he sketched an Andantino for violin, mandolin and guitar.”For the Barbers”. Apparently he had discovered that Italian clients of a hairdresser at Capri diverted themselves with music while waiting for their turn and Elgar composed this piece for their general benefit.
I have looked for this fragment, and found it – it is available here, but sixty quid seemed a bit much to pay for a few lines of music, even though I might have been able to do an Anthony Payne “elaboration” on them!
So please feel free to have a go!