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Elgar, Edward – Music therapy for the patients of Worcester City and County Lunatic Asylum near Powick

Identifier

022292

Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Music as cause and cure of illness – Dr Cheryce Kramer

The standard of musicianship in British asylums was sometimes surprisingly high. For example, at the Worcester City and County Lunatic Asylum near Powick, Edward Elgar, the English Romantic composer par excellence, worked as an asylum conductor for five years, from 1879 to 1884. Although not amongst his most celebrated works, Elgar composed a number of pieces for Powick patients based upon 'the most popular types of dances of the period, Polkas and Quadrilles'. Thanks to the Rutland Sinfonia, Elgar's asylum music can be relished outside the asylum today. Moreover, the asylum's records reveal that many patients responded extremely well to musical evenings. Physicians occasionally even used a patient's reactions to the music as a means of assessing his or her mental health.

The source of the experience

Elgar, Sir Edward

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: John Bryant