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Elgar the Music Maker


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"The new Diana McVeagh book on Elgar is first-rate," wrote Gerald Finzi of her earlier study of the composer, published in 1955. In the completely new Elgar the Music Maker she harvests five decades of thoughts about his music, scrutinizing the biographical details that have since been discovered and using them to assess the ways in which they affect the compositions.
Diana McVeagh explores Elgar's complex personality and his compositional methods, his style and his relationship to his contemporaries, yet it is the music - still played, recorded, loved and discussed as much as ever- that remains her prime focus.
Each of Elgar's works is discussed, balancing information and appraisal, from his juvenilia to his unfinished Third Symphony. Diana McVeagh provides a compelling and accessible companion to the music of one of England's greatest composers. Musicians, scholars and CD collectors alike will find much to enjoy in Elgar the Music Maker.
Diana McVeagh is the author of the highly acclaimed Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music [2005]; of the entries on Elgar and Finzi for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians [1980, 2001]; and of the Finzi entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [2004].

Read an article in the Daily Telegraph on Elgar


Deserves to be read widely, and we should be grateful to Diana McVeagh for producing an immensely readable and always wise handbook to Elgar's oeuvre. MUSIC & LETTERS
The observation, discovery of what this music is. You're led to it by feeling, and back to feeling it returns. That is the essential way of good music criticism, and this book is full of it. GRAMOPHONE (John Steane)
In associating events of the times with almost all of Elgar's works, McVeagh wears her encyclopedic knowledge lightly: her prose is clean, charming, and clever, and her forays into theory/musicology are brief and to the point...A congenial companion for those who know little about Elgar; a worthy quick read for the knowledgeable. Highly recommended. CHOICE
McVeagh's critical method intertwines description and comment, and it serves her, and the reader, well. ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL [Julian Rushton]
McVeagh's book, the concentrated essence of a lifetime's care for his music, has much to tell us about even the most familiar scores. INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW [John Warrack]
McVeagh is also able to make it clear how much she loves and admires the music without making any extravagant claims on its behalf. It's hard to imagine a more sane approach...the insights...keep coming. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE [Stephen Johnson]
Effortlessly readable, fresh prose. Almost every page has some gem of illumination...An essential listener's companion. CLASSIC FM MAGAZINE [Julian Haylock]
Diana McVeagh has produced another gem of a book...a hawk's eye view of Elgar, the subject matter richly distilled...its arrival cheered me immensely in the midst of what has been a rather bleak 150th anniversary year. THE OLDIE [Richard Osborne]
McVeagh is indeed an intelligent guide here: her writing is both informed and immaculate. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY NEWS
One thoroughly good result of this Elgar year...This is neither a biography nor a technical analysis, but McVeagh has hit on the perfect way of combining the best features of both...There is no superimposition of alien theories or of special interests, and there are no perverse reinterpretations. The last few pages deal with Elgar's posterity and end with a beautifully balanced study of Elgar's personality. TLS [Hugh Wood]
This little book is solid gold. NABMSA Newsletter


First Published: 21 Jun 2007
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843832959
Pages: 264
Size: 19.8 x 12.7
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 05 May 2016


  • 1  The Making of an Enigma 1857-1899
  • 2  To the Greater Glory of God 1899-1909
  • 3  The Symphonist
  • 4  The Music of Wartime 1914-1920
  • 5  The Last Years 1920-1934
  • 6  Coda

Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music

Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music

The Clock of the Years

The Clock of the Years