The Impromptu is quite unknown. In 1932 Elgar visited Belfast to conduct The Dream of Gerontius
. After the composer’s death the BBC producer there, Godfrey Brown, wrote in a letter of condolence to Elgar’s daughter: ‘He sent my secretary (Miss Dales) a little piece of music in the style of a nocturne made out of her initials, and which he wrote specially for her. This she has framed and is, of course, exceedingly proud of it.’ The autograph was bought at Sotheby’s by Richard Westwood-Brookes, who has kindly given permission for its use. Elgar begins it with her initials, E[velyn]-F[rances]-B[arron]-D[ales], sounds them again in an inner voice, and ends inconclusively, with an imperfect cadence and his own initials, an octave E-E. The Impromptu lasts a mere 27 seconds; Elgar was 72 at the time; it is as romantic as anything he ever composed.
from notes by Diana McVeagh © 2011