Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Sir Edward Elgar is understood to have six Military Marches in mind, and four are already among the most popular of all his music. His idea is to make the Marches in every way suitable for parade use without losing any of the qualities which make them welcome on concert platforms, and no one who has ever heard them in either way - and most of us have heard them in both - has any doubt of the complete success with which he has done this. Nor has anyone ever doubted the aptness of the name which Elgar gave to the set.
The first one begins with a rousing Introduction, and then all the strings together have a fine march tune. Its continuation is afterwards cunningly used in the bass. The first tune is repeated, and then the Introduction is made to serve as a sort of bridge to the middle section corresponding to the conventional 'Trio.' As everybody knows, the tune of it is the one to which in the Coronation Ode we sing 'Land of Hope and Glory.' It is here set forth with a regular march beat and then repeated. The first part returns, the 'Land of Hope and Glory' tune is also heard again, and the March finishes with a reminder of the first tune.
Samson and Delilah, the favourite Opera of Saint-Saens, was broadcast to all the B.B.C. listeners last November, and is no doubt too fresh in their memory to need any reminder of the way in which the Old Testament story is set forth in it. It is interesting. in view of its world-wide popularity, to recall that it was refused by the authorities of the Paris Opera, and produced by Liszt, who spent so much of his enthusiasm on other people's behalf, at Weimar. Not till some years after that (1877) did the Paris Theatres welcome Saint-Saens as a composer for the stage, but though a whole series of operas followed one another from his industrious pen, none has ever achieved anything like the world-wide fame of this.
The Dances in the Opera are entrusted to the Priestesses of Dagon, who have two appearances, one in the first Act, after Samson has slain Abimelech, and the Hebrews are rejoicing. It is then that Delilah contrives to enslave the mighty Samson. The other Dance is in the last scene, and forms part of the ceremonies of the Temple, before Samson overthrows it on the heads of his enemies.