Marginally more popular than the Op 53 set, with ten performances, was Elgar’s next and greatest part-song, Go, Song of mine
, also written in Italy, this time at Careggi in April 1909. The words, a translation by Rossetti of a medieval Italian poem, again have a distinctly autobiographical ring; the author’s ‘song’ is sent out ‘To break the hardness of the heart of man’. To what extent Elgar applied them to himself we can only speculate, but he certainly gave it ‘a big setting’, as he wrote to Gorton. In fact he asked Novello to produce it as a separate work; ‘that is to say in the usual yellow cover & not in the part-song book: I should propose to put ‘Go, Song of mine’ Chorus (unaccompanied) in six parts &c &c & drop the part-song altogether. It would, I feel sure, be better for the future of the work’. However, Novello did decide to include it in the part-song book, perhaps fearing that to classify it as a separate choral work might deter some choirs. It was premiered at the 1909 Three Choirs Festival at Hereford and was soon taken up by the major competition festivals as another excellent and taxing test-piece.
from notes by Geoffrey Hodgkins © 1998