Music: Sir Edward's Dream

"Meister Elgar," said Richard Strauss, "is the first English progressive musician." The year was 1902, and Strauss had just heard Edward Elgar's massive oratorio, The Dream of Gerontius. Since then, Gerontius has remained one of the most widely praised-and least frequently heard —monuments of English music. Last week Manhattan concertgoers had a chance to hear the full Gerontius score for the first time in a quarter-century. The occasion: a performance by the New York Philharmonic and the Westminster Choir under Guest Conductor Sir John Barbirolli.

Based on the poem by Cardinal Newman, Gerontius is a mystical, minutely detailed vision of man's death...

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