Today, November 11th is Veteran's Day. First called Armistice Day, it commemorates the end of WWI at the 11th hour of the eleventh day an month.
Édouard Silas (b. Amsterdam, Holland, Aug. 22nd, 1827) At the Paris Conservatoire, gaining first prize for organ, 1849. He moved to London in 1850 and became Organist of the Catholic Chapel, Kingston-on-Thames. He was a professor at the Guildhall School of Music, London, and composed cantatas, church music, organ pieces, orchestral and chamber music, piano pieces, songs, etc.
Silas composed many organ works, and a number of these were very popular at the time.
He died in 1909.
"Elegy" is the sixth of six pieces, which were published by Augener in 1902. It is an extremely powerful work, with it's intense and deeply felt grief.
Written in the key of B-flat minor, it begins with an extended first section that sets forth the wonderfully sad and expressive main theme. The interplay and imitation between the voices is exquisite.
As the section concludes, it seems like you've come to the end, but suddenly, a fanfare for the fallen hero bursts forth. The section certainly shows Silas the pianist, with its dense and difficult passages. A tremendous climax is reached before once again, the muffled funeral drums call us back to the sad cortège which must be on its way.
We are compelled to travel with it, as a mourner, or perhaps only an observer, but either way, the grief and anguish tires our bodies and wounds our souls. This time, when the end is reached, we are certain that all is final, and the fallen is at last laid to rest.
The score, courtesy of Dr. John Henderson, is attached below, as well as a photo of Édouard Silas.
Also below are photos of the commemorative marker and grave of of Private William Spahr, and I ask you to please see the First Comment.
If you liked this work, here is the wonderful "March," the second of the same set of "Six Pieces".