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Edward Elgar and Caroline Alice Roberts: Part 2 — Mrs Elgar

Salut d’ Amour

Alice in later life. Source: The Changing Face of Worcester

Once married, Mrs Caroline Alice Elgar took control, organising a honeymoon in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, a very fashionable resort at the time due to the proximity of Queen Victoria’s island home, Osborne House.

As Simon Mundy writes, the newly weds were:

“ …both determined that marriage should herald a new start, leaving behind the drudgery of provincial teaching and, in Alice’s case, housecalls with her mother. She had a certain amount of money of her own which made it possible to set up house in London, for a few months, at first in fountain Road, Upper Norwood in the southern suburbs, usefully near the Crystal Palace and Manns’ concerts, to which they had season tickets.”

Both Edward and Alice (she would now use her middle name in preference to Caroline), were now determined to enjoy London life, and squeeze in as many concerts as possible, including Verdi’s Otello at the Lyceum, during its first London run, and, for Edward alone, tons of Wagner at Covent Gardner, at half a crown (2/6) a time, plus the annual Hans Richter concerts at the St James’s Hall. Richter and Elgar would become musically entwined not so far in the future. But one of the high points for the Elgars in those early months in London was the Crystal Palace Dog Show, where Edward could relax in the company of dogs, which he much preferred to humans…with the exception of Alice of course.

It was also a time of some optimism in relation to Edward’s music, with the fledgling composer knocking on the doors of music publisher offering pieces for sale, with his opening sales pitch that of having a piece, Sevillana, performed at one of Sir August Manns concerts at the Crystal Palace, with other pieces now under consideration. I’m sure Alice would have given him a certain amount of coaching before he set off for the classical music version of Tin Pan Alley:

“ Now listen to me, Edward, you are going to be dealing with unscrupulous men who will want to pay you as little as possible for your work. Do not accept their first offer…”

“ I shall be over the moon if they make me an offer at all, my dear.”

“ Whatever you do do not show pleasure if they make you an offer. Be circumspect and thoughtful, do not be thankful. Do you understand?”

“ Yes, my dear.”

“ I had the same problems when trying to sell my first novel. Oh, none of this writing of letters pretending to be a man just to get published. No, I used to walk straight into a publisher’s office and tell him my novel could make him, and me, a great deal of money.”

“ I can see you now my dear. I’d have run a mile. I don’t suppose you’d like to try and sell my music…?”

“ No, Edward, I would not. You must do this. Be brave, be strong…”

“ I’ve never been very brave you know.”

“ You have me now, my sweet, darling Edu, you have me.”

“ Should I walk or take the omnibus?”

“ A walk will do you good.”

“ The brown shoes I think.”

And Elgar did sell quite a few pieces of music that morning, including a part song to Novello’s called My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land. Osborn and Tuckwood took another song and twelve organ pieces, with Schotts taking Liebesgruss, which Elgar had re-titled Salut d’ Amour, in honour of his engagement to Alice.

All of the pieces were sold outright, cash in hand, no copyright. He and Alice needed the money, and £5 a piece wasn’t bad going. It also meant Alice needn’t sell anymore of her jewellry, at least not for a while.

Salut d’ Amore made Schott’s a huge amount of money.

One evening, after supper, with more songs having been sold that day, and as Edward lit a pipe, Alice told him she was pregnant.

Source: Look and Learn

To Be Continued…

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