Friday, June 8, 2012

A trip back in time

Perhaps it was the post I wrote the other day but I have been hit with an attack of Victoriana.

I am sometimes amazed at the historic videos I find on YouTube. You get to see long-dead people walking around. And the films seem to get older and older. I am half expecting them one of these days to turn up rare footage of, oh, Franz Josef Haydn. It would be some brief, grainy thing you would study and study, freezing the frame, drinking it in, what the master is wearing, what his face looked like. Honest, it would not surprise me.

Meanwhile here is what I found and loved: Sir Edward Elgar conducting his "Pomp and Circumstance" March.

"Good morning, gentlemen. Very glad to see you all." That is what Elgar says after being helped off with his coat and ascending the podium.

So sweet, so understated, so British. So moving.

This big, white-haired man, with that stentorian mustache.

The performance is in honor of the opening in 1931 of EMI's Abbey Road studios in London.

The video unfortunately cuts out a lot of the march but you get to hear the stately main theme. I wrote a Web log post at work about it, how thrillingly Elgar handles it. We can learn a lot from what he does. It appears he continued, in his modest way, to revel in his beautiful, expansive creation. Bravo, Sir Edward!

That video led me to this one. Someone combined Elgar conducting his First Symphony with footage -- who knew it existed? -- of Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901.

Alas, I see you have to watch it on YouTube. Well, I would suggest watching it anyway. That is some mustache Elgar had when he was young! If you thought it was something in that video up above, it was nothing next to what it had been in earlier years.

The person who put that video together did a beautiful job. You see a bunch of still photographs, and then when the film footage starts it is as if the people come to life. Very moving, the crowds lining the streets, the horse-drawn hearse bearing Queen Victoria. A woman born in 1819.

Here is a mini-documentary that shows more film. They have a voice talking over it -- I prefer Elgar, you know? -- but still, fascinating.

 Watch for the kings on horseback following the hearse. You see the hearse and then a group of uniformed guards and then these two stately men riding side by side. They are the chief mourners. The one on the right is King Edward VII, Queen Victoria's son, and riding by his side is Kaiser Wilhelm II, Victoria's grandson.

These famous figures, long dead.

A different world!

Here is rare footage of the living Queen Victoria.

Watch for the reaction of the crowds. You can tell when the Queen is drawing near because they all start going crazy.



  1. You shameless Anglophile, you!
    Your sentiments I also share---
    As does Prof. Joseph Epstein,
    As this linked essay doth lay bare:

    Oh Lord, forgive us our Anglophilia,
    For we cannot help but be stirred
    By the glories produced by that sceptred isle,
    Whether in music, painting, or word.

  2. Bob, I love your poem! What if Elgar turns me into an Anglophile? I do love his English ways.

  3. Are you a fan of "Upstairs, Downstairs"?
    I've been watching "Thomas and Sarah",
    A BBC spinoff from 1978---
    When I watch it, I don't have a care; uh,

    Here's a precis of the show from Wikipedia---
    The eps are preserved on DVD media:

  4. I am a total Anglophile. Mayflower descendant on mother's side.

    The Elgar video is amazing in so many ways. I love the respect everyone shows the grand old man, from taking his coat, to a friendly arm as he climbs the stairs - and then, the minute he is settled at the podium, the musicians instantly rise and tap their bows (it's called tipping, isn't it?).

    And the different camera angles! A really nice piece of work.

  5. My idea of England is a holy one,
    I hold it no less than sacred---
    Which is why I could never visit there:
    It would kill me to see it naked.

  6. Solange, you're right, the tapping of the bows. (The tipping.) I loved that too, the respect. I kept watching the beginning over and over because of that. I just wish they hadn't cut directly to the famous theme. I would like to watch the whole march! Well, I guess everything comes to YouTube, if we just wait..

  7. Bob...

    If I should go to England,
    My joy, it would not pale,
    Cause I don't hope for culture, really --
    I only want the ale!

    Wow, not bad, I'm discovering my inner poet!