Edward Elgar's work "Dream of Gerontius", derives from Cardinal Newman's poem and it tells of the journey of a man's soul after death - Gerontius may be translated roughly as old man.
Today, the work is undoubtedly the most popular of all Elgar's choral works, and indeed among the most frequently performed of all his works. Surely no-one can remain unmoved by the priest's invocation to Gerontius - as part 1 ends - to 'go forth' ('Proficiscere, anima Christiana'); nor, in part 2, by the chorus of 'Praise to the Holiest', the words of which were also taken to form the well-known hymn.
But these excerpts should not be allowed overshadow much other beautiful writing in the piece. And, while early commentators may have been wary of the work's essentially Catholic stance (the composer Charles Villiers Stanford is reported to have said the work 'stank of incense'), most now are struck more by the dramatic intensity and integrity of the subject. The work continues to be performed regularly throughout Britain.
On October 3rd 2000, saw the centenary of the work's first performance, leading to a much increased interest in the work.
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