Elgar on the Riviera

Ahead of this evening’s Prom with Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO, we share the story behind the opening work, Elgar’s In the South (Alassio)

Elgar on the Riviera

By 1903, Edward Elgar was doing well enough to afford a winter holiday for his wife and himself. They went to fashionable Alassio on the Italian Riviera and walked in the hills enjoying streams and flowers against a backdrop both of snow-capped mountains and the blue Mediterranean.

He daydreamed of ancient civilisations and mused on the passage of time as he watched shepherds amongst the ruins. ‘Then I woke up,’ he said, ‘and found I’d composed an overture. The rest was merely writing it down.’ In the South (Alassio) was premiered in 1904 at Covent Garden.

It was a good year for Elgar. The King Knighted him, the Athenaeum accepted him and Birmingham University honoured him. A winter in the warm south was his due, dammit.


(Words by Rick Jones)



What's on at the Proms tonight?


Prom 62, Wednesday 29 August, 6pm


Elgar In the South (Alassio)

Iain Bell Aurora (BBC co-commission: world premiere)

R. Strauss Das Rosenband; Ständchen; Wiegenlied; Zueignung

Bartók Concerto for Orchestra

Diana Damrau (soprano)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko



The Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3

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