A farmer’s wife on BBC’s Newsnight was complaining bitterly the other night about the Blair government’s bias against the countryside. Not only had it banned fox-hunting and bungled compensation for the mad cow and foot-and-mouth disasters, it was now refusing to grant subsidy to celebrate Edward Elgar’s 150th anniversary. This made it anti-rural and unpatriotic.
Interesting thought. For the past two months the Daily Telegraph has been whipping up an editorial froth on an almost daily basis about the greatness of our national composer. It has argued, with more heat than light, that Elgar ranks among the most important composers that ever lived and is deserving of the biggest imaginable birthday fest. Some of the Telegraph’s terriers have come nipping at my ankles for daring to suggest on the BBC and in print that Elgar is, apart from three undeniable masterpieces, of little consequence to the modern world. He was reactionary in every way, innovated very little and, apart from breaking England’s musical drought, means little to other people – proof of which can be found in the stern silence with which his anniversary year is being greeted in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Now, along comes our country spokeswoman and confirms my point. Elgar, in her view, is an emblem of rural England – as Thomas Koschat is of Austrian Carinthia, for instance, and Hugo Alfven (if I’m not mistaken) of Swedish Dalarna.
I couldn’t agree with her more, but where does that leave the http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/06/02/do0207.xml, “>Telegraph jingoists, shouting vainly that Elgar is the greatest, when the world simply does not want to know?