Great Composer Quiz – May 5, 2020

This time it’s a Quiz about finding new and different forms of self-criticism. This Great Composer invented a character he called Letitia Barnett, who lived at Propriety Villa, 147 Precise Gardens, Parallel Road. After writing an especially raucous overture our Great Composer wrote a letter to a friend in which he explained that Mrs. Barnett did not think “the lovemaking in [the overture] strictly proper.” He wondered if Mrs. Barnet’s objection was over the harmony. “If so,” he wrote, “I never learnt enough to correct it, but if she means morally proper, a bit of Mendelssohn always makes anything right. So I enclose a new Coda.” The new coda which he sent along to his friend combined the lovers’ music with the Mendelssohn Wedding March. So who was this morally repentant man, this Great Composer?

Time’s up, pencils down. The Great Composer whose make-believe critic Mrs. Letitia Barnett disapproved of the love-making in his Cockaigne Overture. It’s Sir Edward Elgar. Even after Elgar atoned for his lack of propriety by adding a little Mendelssohnian coda to his Cocky Overture (as a joke), Mrs. Barnett persisted in her criticism. Elgar said she said, “I enclose a temperance card: if you could get Dr. Elgar to sign it and give up writing music I should be grateful.”

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