Premiere Queen Alexandra’s Memorial Ode

For choir and military band

Lost for nearly eighty years, there are now two versions of Queen Alexandra’s Memorial Ode¸ composed by Sir Edward Elgar in 1932.

In May 1932, Sir Edward Elgar - then aged 75 and Master of the King’s Musick - was given less than a month to compose a musical setting for the poem So Many True Princesses Who Have Gone. The verses were written by the Poet Laureate, John Masefield, as a tribute to the late Queen Alexandra and the piece was needed for the unveiling of Sir Alfred Gilbert’s Queen Alexandra Memorial at Marlborough House on 8 June 1932.

Elgar originally set the poem to an orchestral accompaniment. However, the last-minute replacement of the orchestra by a military band led to a hasty re-arrangement for wind band and choir, with a be-robed Elgar conducting the chorister children of the Chapels Royal, the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Band of the Welsh Guards in the first performance.

"Both the orchestral and band scores have since been lost," explains Morrison. "My arrangements for wind band and for band with chorus are based on the vocal score in Elgar's own hand, which lies in the library of St George’s Chapel, Windsor.”

The 8 minute work was completed in an arrangement for orchestra by Anthony Payne, and was premiered at the Maltings, Snape, in 2002 by the Britten-Pears Chamber Choir with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo and recorded for Chandos by Richard Hickocks on CHSA 5057 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The version for wind was premiered on 22nd October, 2011, by the Nottingham Concert Band, Musical Director Robert Parker, in a concert at St. Mary the Virgin, Bunny.