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Sir Edward Elgar might be one of the best known British composers, but playing the trombone did not number among his many musical skills.
How can you expect me to play this dodgasted thing if you laugh?
Sir Edward Elgar
"I don’t think he played it very well," says Sue Addison, Principal Trombone with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, who has wiped off the dust to play the instrument for the first time since his death in 1934.
Elgar probably first picked up the instrument fairly late in his life, and never seems to have got to grips with it.
The composer first mentions his new hobby in 1900, when he was 43 years old, signing off a letter to his publicist with the words "PS I’m learning the trombone".
His friend Dora Penny later wrote of going to visit Elgar:
"On one occasion he got up and fetched a trombone that was standing in a corner and began trying to play passages in the score.
"He didn’t do it very well and often played a note higher or lower than the one he wanted… and as he swore every time that happened I got into such a state of hysterics that I didn’t know what to do. Then he turned on me:
"’How can you expect me to play this dodgasted thing if you laugh?’
"I went out of the room as quickly as I could and sat on the stairs, clinging to the banisters till the pain eased, but it was no good.
"I couldn’t stop there as he went on making comic noises, so I went downstairs out of ear-shot for a bit."
Perhaps put off by the underwhelming support, Elgar eventually gave up the instrument, donating it during World War I to the YMCA for use by wounded soldiers.
The trombone then appeared to go missing, but resurfaced in 1934 in the Ealing YMCA, after a newspaper advert inquired about its whereabouts.
Since then it has been housed in the Royal College of Music, next to the trombone owned by fellow composer Gustav Holst, who could actually play the instrument.
Sue Addison remembered having seen it there as a student and resurrected it for a forthcoming performance of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.
"Strangely enough, Holst’s trombone seems to play much better," she says.
"You can certainly make a lot of weird noises on Elgar’s. But you can also play beautiful music on it."