Edward German

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Sir Edward German(17 February 186211 November 1936) was an English musician and composer, best remembered for his extensive output of incidental music for the stage and as a successor to Arthur Sullivan in the field of English comic opera.

Sir Edward German


  • I am one of those men who never enter into controversies but I shall certainly speak my views to anybody whom I may meet on the subject.
    • In a letter to Sir Seymour Hicks (December 1910)
  • I should like to shake Eric Coates but I won't. When I meet him he says, "I just love every note you have written." and I believe he does--but--as you say--well!
    • German's exasperation with the perception of fellow composer Coates imitating his own style, in a letter to his sister Rachel (4 January, 1925)
  • Every picture shop is filled with pictures of the Emperor; every photographer's with photos--all sizes and in all kinds of positions, in and out of uniform, in different uniforms, looking condescending, looking dignified, on horseback in uniform, on horseback in plain clothes, on donkeyback, head and shoulders without legs, legs without head and shoulders, helmet in hand, helmet on head, helmet on tail, flying in mid air etc. etc. All the statuary too turns on the Emperor. There are busts chiselled in all sizes and the number of different varieties to be seen in halls, houses, shop windows etc. is something quite unbearable. The toy shops are filled with toy Emperors; when he was young the boy Emperor; then the man Emperor; in fact Berlin is saturated with the blessed Emperor as man, woman, boy, girl, soldier, tinker, tailor. The end of it all will be that the people will go stark staring mad and the Emperor himself will go off with a bang the verdict being: "Death from explosion owing to his receiving more hero-worship than the human frame can bear!"
    • In a letter to his sister, describing his observations from a trip to Germany of the cult-like status given the Kaiser.


  • I seem petrified by the modern trend of Art. If you heard some of the ultra-modern works you would understand what I mean. There is a fashion at present, and that fashion is to pretend you enjoy what is incomprehensible. Of course, I ought to be strong enough to disregard it believing as I do that beauty, shapeliness and sanity will prevail in the end. What I begin to feel thankful for is that I have been able to work for thirty years in a more congenial atmosphere.
  • I do not advocate stringent laws in regard to composition. From a master hand everything must naturally be shapely, however modern and advanced it may be, but into students, while they are students, I think it would be wiser to instil a little more of the ethics of form.
  • Let them have muck. It’s all they care for.
    • Referring to the public's favoritism of light music over serious.
  • Merrie England is older, but I was younger. Tom Jones is younger, but I was older.
    • Upon being asked which of his two most popular operas he personally preferred.


  • When Adam and Eve were dispossessed / Of the garden hard by Heaven / They planted another one down in the West / Twas Devon, glorious Devon
    • Lyrics from the song "Glorious Devon", incorrectly attributed to German in a contest sponsored by the Devon County Council. Though German did write the music, the lyrics were written by Sir Harold Boulton.

Quotes of others about German

  • There is only one man to follow me who has genius, and that is Edward German.
    • Sir Arthur Sullivan
  • My music cannot possibly have given you one hundredth part of the joy you rmusic has given me.
    • Edward Elgar, in a letter to German (1924)
  • It is an immortal masterpiece. Anybody and everybody today would, I should say, give the rest of their lives to have written it. Anyway I would.

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