Two new Elgar songs discovered

‘The Millwheel’ and ‘Muleteer’s Serenade’ broadcast on Radio 3’s In Tune before first concert performance on Elgar’s 156th birthday

Edward Elgar
Published: May 29, 2013 at 10:58 am

Two previously unknown songs by Edward Elgar have been discovered during research for the latest volume in an edition of the composer’s work.


‘The Mill Wheel’ and ‘Muleteer’s Serenade’ have never been published before and were believed to have been left unfinished by Elgar.

All that was known of the works was the dates on which the composer began writing them – noted by his wife in her diary – and that he later used the music for part of his 1896 cantata King Olaf.

The editors of the Elgar Complete Edition set out to separate the two songs – which they believed to be unfinished fragments – from the music Elgar later used in King Olaf.

The only surviving sketches of the two songs are in the British Library and are heavily annotated with changes that Elgar made to incorportate the music into the cantata.

'As we pealed back the layers of history,' said the editors in a statement, 'it became increasingly apparent that, beneath the later accretions, we were left with two finished songs.'

'The MIll Wheel' and 'Muleteer's Serenade' have been published for the first time in Volume 15 of the Elgar Complete Edition, published by the Elgar Society.

The songs were performed on Radio 3’s In Tune on 28 May [listen on iPlayer here from 42minutes] by soprano Bethan Waters and pianist Barry Collett and they will receive their first concert performance at the Elgar birthplace on 2 June, which is the composer’s birthday.


BBC Radio 3 will be celebrating British music throughout June – for more information pick up a copy of the June issue of BBC Music Magazine, on sale now.

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