The Wand of Youth

The Wand of Youth

The Wand of Youth Suites No. 1 & No. 2 are works for full orchestra by the English composer Edward Elgar. The titles given them by Elgar were, in full:::and


As a boy Elgar composed some tunes for use in a play staged by the young members of the Elgar family. He noted the tunes down in a sketchbook and four decades later he based the two "Wand of Youth" Suites on the sketches. He gave the suites the opus number 1 in recognition that they were his earliest surviving compositions, albeit now scored for full orchestra with the mature Elgar’s mastery of orchestration. (Many years later Benjamin Britten followed Elgar’s precedent using his own juvenilia as the basis of his "Simple Symphony)."

First Suite

The First Suite is dedicated 'To my friend C. Lee Williams'. [Charles Lee Williams, Mus.B. was a former organist of Gloucester Cathedral, nicknamed the 'Father of the Three Choirs'.]

It consists of seven sections:

:1. Overture:2. Serenade:3. Minuet (Old Style):3. Sun Dance:3. Fairy Pipers:4. Slumber Scene:5. Fairies and Giants

It was first performed at the Queen's Hall, London on 14 December 1907, conducted by Sir Henry Wood.

econd Suite

The Second Suite is dedicated 'To Hubert A. Leicester, Worcester'. [Hubert Leicester was a boyhood friend of the composer, who played the clarinet in Elgar's wind quintet while young Edward played the bassoon and cello.]

It has six sections:

:1. March:2. The Little Bells (Scherzino):3. Moths and Butterflies (Dance):4. Fountain Dance:5. The Tame Bear:6. The Wild Bears

It was first performed at Worcester (as part of the Three Choirs Festival) on 9 September 1908, conducted by the composer.

elective discography

The suites are not regularly programmed in the concert hall, but their length is well suited to recordings, and they have been recorded under the baton of the composer and by several later conductors. In the era of the Long Playing record each suite (lasting about 20 minutes) fitted conveniently on an LP side; in the CD era the suites have continued to be recorded, usually in tandem with other shorter pieces by Elgar such as the "Nursery Suite."

*London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Edward Elgar
*London Philharmonic Orchestra/Eduard van Beinum

*London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
*Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/Raymond Leppard
*Ulster Orchestra/Bryden Thomson
*Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
*New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd


*Reed, W. H., "Elgar", J M Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1939
*Notes to recordings listed above by LPO/Boult and RLPO/Handley


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