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Edward Elgar’s Masque The Crown of India

Resonances of the Raj at the London Coliseum

Edvige Pucciarelli    Università di Bergamo - Italy    



The music for The Crown of India was written by Edward Elgar in 1912 to accompany an ‘Imperial Masque’ with a libretto by Henry Hamilton. The impresario Sir Oswald Stoll had commissioned Elgar to compose the Masque music for the lavish celebration of the coronation of King George V as Emperor of India as part of a larger entertainment in the Coliseum Theatre in St. Martin’s Lane. The Masque was part of an ample music-hall programme, involving shows as different as mime, pantomime and music. Elgar’s ‘Imperial Masque’ was meant to be an assertion of the British Empire, bringing to the London stage the crucial political happenings behind all the pageantry of the Delhi Durbar for the crowning of George V as Emperor of India in December 1911. This event had marked the climax of the only royal tour of India undertaken by a reigning King-Emperor and had caused much public excitement in England. The Durbar ceremony itself was an adaptation of a court ritual of the Mogul Empire, an event where the ruling princes used to meet to discuss politics and legislative changes. To listen to works such as Elgar’s The Crown of India (Opus 66), it is necessary to acknowledge that at the beginning of the 20th century the British nation believed in the Empire and in its concept.

Dec. 21, 2018
Nov. 30, 2018
Nov. 28, 2018

Keywords: HamiltonElgarMasqueSaidImperialism

Copyright: © 2018 Edvige Pucciarelli. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.