For Elgar it closed an era more effectively than almost any of his other works. In 1902 he had written the Coronation Ode for Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, but it took the orchestration by Anthony Payne in 2004 to reveal how the Memorial Ode returns to the world of that piece, celebrating its final close.
Among the choristers at the unveiling was Sir David Willcocks who (in conversation with Andrew Neill) recalled the occasion:
I remember it was a fine day and we were in cassocks and surplices. I was from Westminster Abbey but the choirs taking part, if I remember rightly, were the choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral, The Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey. We were stretched out in a semi-circle and I happened to be on the end of the row. After the performance I said to one of the St Paul’s boys: ‘Elgar seems to be looking in our direction’; and of course the chap said: ‘No, he was looking at us the whole time.’ Elgar has that all embracing gaze, and I remember feeling that I was in the presence of a great person. Of course he had great charisma.
The Ode was not published and the manuscript short score remained forgotten in the Royal Library. In 1975 when I first researched this work and was supplied a photocopy from Windsor the full score and parts could not be traced and they are still missing. One is aware that reconstructions of the original band scoring are afoot but none has yet been heard and it is good to have this performing edition by Jonathan Wix with organ accompaniment by Robert Quinney.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2007