Mendelssohn did so, famously—the sceptred isle lost its homegrown mojo when Purcell died at the end of 1695.
British classical music got its mojo back in the early twentieth century as part of a general cultural efflorescence around the fin de siècle. But unlike the Germans and Austrians, the Brits kept theirs—by the end of the century, the most requested piece on classical radio stations was Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves.
Music director Kenneth Kiesler has come up with a killer program of British music for the University Symphony Orchestra concert on December 10 that’ll test its Anglophile mojo—even without RVW.
Kiesler and the USO will end at the beginning with the first piece that put England back on the musical map: Edward Elgar’s super-virtuoso Enigma Variations of 1899, for full Romantic orchestra plus organ. A set of oblique character studies of the composer’s wife and friends—including noble “Nimrod” and hilarious “Bulldog Dan” variations—it concludes with a finale depicting the composer himself, with flags flying and organ blaring.