On today’s date in 1919, the British composer Edward Elgar finished a work he labeled jokingly as his “Opus 1001” – a 50 second “Smoking Cantata,” intended, according to the manuscript score, as "an edifying, allegorical, improving, expostulatory, educational, persuasive, hortatory, instructive, dictatorial, magisterial, inauditory work.”
The score was completed at the Hertfordshire home of a wealthy banker named Edward Speyer, one of Elgar’s oldest friends, to whom the manuscript was given. When Elgar came to stay, Speyer had only one request, that the composer and his musician friends, “Kindly do not smoke in the hall or on the staircase.”
That’s also full text of Elgar’s cantata.
In the middle of Elgar’s manuscript, he drew a medieval hell's mouth, belching smoke. The little score was discovered, performed, and recorded for the first time in July of 2003.
Music Played in Today's Program
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)Smoking CantataAndrew Shore, bar; Hallé Orchestra; Mark Elder, cond.Hallé CD HLL-7505