Autograph manuscript of Masque from 'As you Like It'
by Sir Edward German (1862 - 1936)
In 1896 Edward German, composer principally of operettas, songs and instrumental music, was commissioned by actor/manager Sir George Alexander to write some of the incidental music for a production of As You Like It at St James’ Theatre near Piccadilly.
When first performed, The Telegraph reported that: “...the Masque at the end of the play with its beautiful new music by Mr Edward German...gives to the pastoral comedy a Christmas charm which every intelligent child will appreciate. Mr German’s music so tasteful, so delicate and so melodious...is a distinguished feature of the revival”.
Forty years later, on 25 April 1936, in recognition of his eminent services to the art of music, the Court agreed that Sir Edward should be granted the Honorary Freedom of the Company at Stationers’ Hall. After the ceremony he wrote: “I feel that in my few words on Tuesday evening I have not adequately expressed my appreciation of the honour done me by the Worshipful Company of Musicians. I now wish to assure you that the Scroll (the beautiful Scroll) will ever remain with me and I would like you to convey my thoughts to the Worshipful Master [Sir Ian Malcolm] and to all members of the Company” (also see below). He subsequently presented the manuscript of Masque from As You Like It to the Company. This ceremony proved to be German’s last appearance in public and he died seven months later.
Shown left image are the Court Minutes of 7th July 1936, granting Sir Edward German the Honorary Freedom of the Company - click to expand.
Shown below is a letter from German requesting assistance on the process to be undertaken at the Ceremony.
Sir Edward German's Masque is a suite of incidental music provided for a late 19th century production of As You Like It. It contains 3 sections:
a) Woodland Dance
b) Children's Dance
c) Rustic Dance
Click below to hear a performance of the opening piece, Woodland Dance - conducted by Edward German on 26th July 1916. This is an extract from a Hallmark CD, taken from an original HMV 78rpm recording.
The original manuscript score is hardbound and held in the Guildhall Library. The image to the right shows the binding (click on it to expand).
The black bound volume contains 61 pages of score, each one can be accessed below - again, click on an individual image to download that sheet of music.