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Edward German (1862-1936)
Song without Words
Born German Edward Jones in Whitchurch, the future Sir Edward German (1862-1936) spent seven years at the Royal Academy of Music, studying harmony and counterpoint with Prout and winning organ and violin as well as composition prizes.
Although eventually overshadowed by that of his friend Elgar, German's music enjoyed great success in the later Victorian and Edwardian periods, ranging from symphonies, suites and concert overtures to ballads and salon pieces. He was also seen as the natural successor to Sullivan, completing the latter's last opera The Emerald Isle and composing his own masterpiece Merrie England for the Savoy Theatre in 1902.
The Song without Words (or ‘Album Leaf’, as it was originally called) was written for Manuel Gomez, who gave the first performance at a Prom in September 1898. The Observer described the work as ‘simply a little gem. A theme of great simplicity and haunting beauty, full of grace and tenderness and developed with considerable skill and variety of resource, places this little work among the most successful of Mr. German’s smaller pieces.'
© Oliver Davies 2007
Song without Words has been recorded by Colin Bradbury and Oliver Davies on the CD The Art of the Clarinettist (CC0008).