Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
KING ARTHUR SUITE for orchestra
Edited and arranged by R.H.Kay
Goodmusic Concert Classics GMCL172
Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Percussion (Side drum, Cymbals, Bass drum, Triangle, Tambourine, Gong, Tubular Bell), Harp
Strings (Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass)
Elgar's incidental music to Laurence Binyon's play Arthur was written in 1923. It was scored for a theatre orchestra of 13 players, and Elgar never rescored it for full orchestra - consequently it has remained unpublished and unknown. This new performing edition has been prepared by Robert Kay. It is made up of selections from the Arthur music rescored for standard symphony orchestra, and incorporates the majority of the music.
The plot of the play is as follows. Sir Lancelot is the secret lover of Guinevere, King Arthurs queen. The play opens with Lancelot, wounded in battle, having been nursed back to health by Elaine (daughter of the courtier Sir Bernard). Elaine loves Lancelot but is rejected by him and subsequently dies of a broken heart. Meanwhile the usurper Mordred, Arthurs nephew, has uncovered the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere, and reveals this to Arthur with the intention of turning Arthur against Lancelot and thereby weakening Arthurs hold on power. Lancelot flees to his castle in the north, where he is besieged by Arthurs followers. Lancelot is banished, Guinevere leaves Arthur and enters a nunnery, while Arthur, having killed Mordred in battle, himself dies, his body being transported to the Isle of Avalon.
The six movements are:- King Arthur and Sir Lancelot; Elaine; Banqueting Scene; The Castle at Night; Battle Scene; The Death of Arthur.
Duration 21 minutes
A PACK comprises one full score, string parts 4/4/3/4/2 and all wind, brass and percussion.
An A4 study score with editorial commentary is available from
Live performance available on YouTube
Click the play button below to hear a performance which has been computer-generated from the score.