My first encounter with Elgar

My first 19 years were spent in Florida, on the edge of the Everglades. In those days, before northern retirees and their families made the state into a giant suburb of New Jersey, Florida was the land of strong southern accents, unpaved roads, and strange, often unfriendly, wildlife.  And, of course, in Jack Kennedy’s famous words describing those menacing Soviet missiles, Cuba was only “90 miles away.”   So we all grew up with a healthy appreciation of the Spanish language.  Conspicuously absent from this roiling mix of influences was just about anything highbrow, including classical music.  So, when my school music director announced that next week we were going to begin a new piece by Elgar, I thought he meant the piece was called El Gar.  It must be, I thought, a Spanish piece, about a fish.  Now the gar is a nasty creature native to the Everglades, whose body consists mostly of a long snout filled with countless sharp teeth.  About as far from the likes of Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO, as one can imagine.  Although I’m sure El Gar would’ve enjoyed an encounter with Elgar.

By the way, those initials – OM, GCVO, CB, LT, ARRC, etc. etc. – tacked onto the end of English names merely designate seating priorities at state functions, as far as I can tell.  Or maybe it’s a code used by British Airways to award upgrades.  So, DCB would be “Row D, Seat C; offer Bubbly.”  Much more plausible than Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath.

El Gar

El Gar

Sir Edward

Sir Edward

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8 Responses to My first encounter with Elgar

  1. Mini says:

    Hmm, trying to think of composers who sound a bit like fish…but all that come to mind are StickleBach, Eel-ius, Rimsky Korsacod, Octo-debussy and Rachmanchovyinoff…I’ll get my coat…

  2. reedshack says:

    More please! All I had thought of was Schubert’s great quintet, El Trucha (the “Trout”). Suppose it’s actually La Trucha, but what the hay.

  3. Anneke says:

    You left out the denouement. What happens when the band strikes up P&C and no visions of toothy fish swim by?

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