Edward Elgar

Falstaff, Op. 68, 1913


  • Symphonic study in c minor, 2 interludes in a minor
  • Leeds Festival 1913
  • Analytical commentary


I. Falstaff and Prince Henry

II. Eastcheap – Gadshill, - The Boar’s Head, revelry and sleep;

III. Falstaff’s March, – The return through Gloucestershire, – The New King, – The hurried ride to London;

IV. King Henry V’s progress, - The repudiation of Falstaff, and his death


  • Henry IV & Henry V
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Elgar remembers Falstaff in Henry IV & V plays

1) How does the notation relate to the 1932 musical performance?

Broadly sticks to notation markings

Tempo - open to interpretation - Dream Interlude

Dream Interlude:

First interlude

Falstaff in drunken sleep behind a curtain

Dreams of youth

Marked ♪=100 but approx. ♪=82

2) What is Elgar trying to communicate through a slower tempo in the Dream Interlude?

Falstaff's Character:

  • Psychological musical commentary
  • Empathy - innocence regained
  • Sympathy for what is to come

Autobiographical Reference:

  • Personal affinity
  • Human life as theme
  • Changing public tastes
  • Representation of fame


Allis, Michael, ‘Elgar and the Art of Retrospective Narrative’, Journal of Musicological Research, 19.4 (2000), pp. 289-328.

Elgar, Edward, ‘Falstaff’, The Musical Times, 54.847 (1913), pp. 575-579.

Harper-Scott, J.P.E., Elgar An Extraordinary Life (London: The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Publishing Ltd., 2007).

Harper-Scott, J.P.E., ‘Elgar’s Invention of the Human: Falstaff, Opus 68’, 19th-Century Music, 28.3 (2005), pp. 230-253.

Kennedy, Michael, BBC Music Guides: Elgar Orchestral Music (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1970).

Kennedy, Michael, The Life of Elgar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).