It’s the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edward Elgar, composer and cyclist. Sadly, it seems we may now be seeing a repeat of the grudging response to the recent Auden anniversary. Elgar is ignored outside the British Isles, says The Guardian

“he remains almost inexplicably ignored everywhere”

And he’s deliberately ignored by many inside his own country, reports The Telegraph

“despite his huge popularity and influence, Arts Council England has refused to help fund a major celebration of his work to coincide with the 150th anniversary of his birth, which falls this coming Saturday.”

But both Auden and Elgar, both of whom knew and loved Birmingham and the Malverns yet inside felt themselves ‘outsiders’ from it (Elgar because of his humble class origins, Auden because of his homosexuality), are firm and enduring national favorites. It’s a very odd sort of political correctness that can ignore a gay poet of the left, and a composer from the lower-classes, both of whom produced works that are still deeply meaningful to ordinary people.

Still, there are plenty of events happening for the 150th anniversary, including a substantial series of broadcasts from BBC Radio 3. Anyone interested in the rural Midlands landscape, and how “spirit of place” can infuse creative works, shouldn’t miss the hour-long documentary Elgar’s Landscapes on BBC Radio 3, 11th and 15th June 07, starting at 12.00…

“Donald Macleod is joined by Stephen Johnson for an exploration of the beautiful landscapes of Herefordshire and Worcestershire that inspired much of Elgar’s greatest music. Together they climb the Malvern Hills right to the top of the Herefordshire Beacon, which inspired Elgar’s Caracticus, and descend to the environs of Worcester, where Elgar grew up and returned to, in spirit, in many of his later works. Elgar’s hobby of cycling inspired a number of pieces and many of his friends from the Enigma Variations were keen, fellow cyclists.”

Update: Josh from MADE writes to say that Birmingham’s Symphony Hall “are doing a fine job celebrating Elgar’s 150th.”