Concert remembers Elgar’s links to Norwich

Norwich's historic links to composer Sir Edward Elgar were honoured on Saturday with a performance of the musician's famous cello concerto.

The orchestral performance by the Norwich Philharmonic at St Andrew's Hall gave the audience the chance to read fascinating excerpts from Elgar's diaries.

The documents detail the composer's friendship with Norwich solicitor Walter Hansell, who he met in 1905.

His contemporaries from the Hansells law firm, which still operates from The Close, sponsored the event.

Images from The Elgar Diaries were displayed by Martin Bird, editor of the Elgar Society Journal, who said: 'It couldn't have been better to hear Elgar in the place where he first met the Hansells.

'I am delighted people in Norwich have had a chance to view the Elgar diaries. It is, in essence, like a preview as I hope they will all be published in the next five years with even more people getting the chance to learn how Elgar became of friend of Walter Hansell, and read about his regular visits to Norwich.'

Among the diary entries was one written by Elgar's wife Alice on October 24, 1905 which recalled: 'Carrow Abbey beautiful and delightful. Inhabitants charming. Beautiful rehearsal after luncheon. Sat with Mr. Hansell at the Rehearsal.'

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Roger Holden, Hansells' managing partner, said: 'The diaries were fascinating to read. As well as recalling Walter Hansell's friendship with Elgar, the diaries mention famous landmarks such as Carrow Abbey and rehearsals at the Norwich Music Festival where Elgar would conduct.

'Bringing the Elgar diaries to Norwich for a concert of Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor was not only fitting but provided the perfect occasion to celebrate Elgar's links to the city and, indeed, his friendship with Walter Hansell.

'Walter was well known not only as a solicitor but as a sportsman. He was founder of the Norfolk County football side.

'Internationally he was in the England soccer squad and in 1881 won the equivalent of an FA Cup medal in a football match between Old Carthusians and Old Etonians. In the same year Walter represented Norfolk in the county cricket team.'