I should just call today Musical Birthdays Day because three popular singer-songwriters were born today (https://www.bookofdaystales.com/skiffle-pop-country/ ) and, to add to the coincidences, two of the most famous British conductors of all time, Thomas Beecham (1879) and Malcolm Sargent (1895), were also born on this date. I was more aware of Sargent than Beecham during their lifetimes, because Sargent was the lead conductor of the Proms until his death in 1967, and that was right around the time when I became aware of them. His death actually caused considerable debate concerning the future of the Last Night of the Proms which had become uproariously patriotic under his baton, with mass singing of Rule Britannia and Jerusalem and the like, at a time when naked jingoism was giving way to public hand wringing concerning the evils of empire and colonialism. The patriotism survived some stormy years – now tempered with flags of all nations being waved and a general air of irony mixed in with the jingoism. Of the two I tend to see Sargent as more devoted to English music and Beecham as more international. The two men were close friends and colleagues most of their lives.
Thomas Beecham inherited a baronetcy from his father but was also knighted in his own right for his work as a conductor and impresario, best known for his association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras. From the early 20th century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain and introduced audiences to works from continental Europe that had hitherto been unknown, particularly Richard Strauss, Berlioz, and Sibelius.
Beecham was born into a rich industrial family in Lancashire famous for Beecham’s pills. Although in secondary school he had shown strong interest in a musical career, his father insisted he study Classics at Oxford, which he did for two years, before leaving without a degree and pursuing conducting piecemeal. He began his career as a conductor in 1899 as an amateur (with no formal training), and as a professional in 1902. He used his access to the family fortune to finance opera from the 1910s until the 1930s, staging seasons at Covent Garden, Drury Lane and His Majesty’s Theatre with international stars, his own orchestra and a wide repertoire. Among the works he introduced to England were Richard Strauss’s Elektra, Salome and Der Rosenkavalier and three operas by Frederick Delius.
Together with Malcolm Sargent, Beecham founded the London Philharmonic, and he conducted its first performance at the Queen’s Hall in 1932. In the 1940s he worked for three years in the United States where he was music director of the Seattle Symphony and conducted at the Metropolitan Opera. After his return to Britain, he founded the Royal Philharmonic in 1946 and conducted it until his death in 1961.
Harold Malcolm Watts Sargent began his musical career as an organist and composer but eventually became widely regarded as Britain’s leading conductor of choral works. The musical ensembles with which he was associated included the Ballets Russes, the Huddersfield Choral Society, the Royal Choral Society, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and the London Philharmonic, Hallé, Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras. Sargent was held in high esteem by choirs and instrumental soloists, but because of his high standards and a statement that he made in a 1936 interview disputing musicians’ rights to tenure, his relationship with orchestral players was often uneasy. Despite this, he was co-founder of the London Philharmonic, was the first conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic as a full-time ensemble, and played an important part in saving the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from disbandment in the 1960s.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Sargent turned down an offer of a major musical directorship in Australia and returned to the UK to bring music to as many people as possible as his contribution to national morale. His fame extended beyond the concert hall: to the British public, he was a familiar broadcaster in BBC radio talk shows, and generations of Gilbert and Sullivan devotees have known his recordings of the most popular Savoy Operas. He toured widely throughout the world and was noted for his skill as a conductor and his championship of British composers.
If I had to pick between Beecham and Sargent as personal friends there would be no contest. Both men were lifelong philanderers, which I find distasteful, but at least Beecham was discreet about his affairs, whereas Sargent flaunted them. Also, Sargent was a flagrant snob, and Beecham often chided him about his posturing. For example, Beecham once described the rising conductor Herbert von Karajan as “a kind of musical Malcolm Sargent” (translation: “like Sargent only with decent musical tastes”). In the same vein, on learning that Sargent’s car was caught in rifle fire in Palestine he noted, “I had no idea the Arabs were so musical.” Beecham did describe Sargent as “the greatest choirmaster we have ever produced.” And on another occasion he said that Sargent was “the most expert of all our conductors – myself excepted of course.”
Both Beecham and Sargent were born in the Victorian era, so you have a wide set of options for recipes. Here is a video for a nut and cream cheese sandwich, that is not commandingly brilliant, except that instead of instructions you have classical music accompanying the process:
Today is the birthday (1857) of Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM GCVO an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the King’s Musick in 1924. Although Elgar is often regarded as a typically English composer, most of his musical influences were not from England but from continental Europe. He felt himself to be an outsider, not only musically, but socially. In musical circles dominated by academics, he was a self-taught composer; in Protestant Britain, his Roman Catholicism was regarded with suspicion in some quarters; and in the class-conscious society of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he was acutely sensitive about his humble origins even after he achieved recognition
Elgar was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath, outside Worcester, England. His father, William Henry Elgar (1821–1906), was raised in Dover and had been apprenticed to a London music publisher. In 1841 William moved to Worcester, where he worked as a piano tuner and set up a shop selling sheet music and musical instruments. In 1848 he married Ann Greening (1822–1902), daughter of a farm worker. Edward was the fourth of their seven children. Ann Elgar had converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before Edward’s birth, and he was baptized and brought up as a Roman Catholic, to the disapproval of his father. William Elgar was a violinist of professional standard and held the post of organist of St. George’s Roman Catholic Church, Worcester, from 1846 to 1885. By the age of 8, Elgar was taking piano and violin lessons, and his father, who tuned the pianos at many grand houses in Worcestershire, would sometimes take him along, giving him the chance to display his skill. Elgar’s friend and biographer W. H. “Billy” Reed wrote that Elgar’s early surroundings had an influence that “permeated all his work and gave to his whole life that subtle but none the less true and sturdy English quality.”
Until he was 15, Elgar received a general education at Littleton (now Lyttleton)[n 4] House school, near Worcester. However, his only formal musical training beyond piano and violin lessons from local teachers consisted of more advanced violin studies with Adolf Pollitzer, during brief visits to London in 1877–78. Elgar said, “my first music was learnt in the Cathedral … from books borrowed from the music library, when I was eight, nine or ten.” He worked through manuals of instruction on organ playing and read every book he could find on the theory of music Around this time, he made his first public appearances as a violinist and organist.
Elgar gave piano and violin lessons and worked occasionally in his father’s shop. He was an active member of the Worcester Glee club, along with his father, and he accompanied singers, played the violin, composed and arranged works, and conducted for the first time. Pollitzer believed that, as a violinist, Elgar had the potential to be one of the leading soloists in the country, but Elgar himself, having heard leading virtuosi at London concerts, felt his own violin playing lacked a full enough tone, and he abandoned his ambitions to be a soloist. At 22 he took up the post of conductor of the attendants’ band at the Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum in Powick, three miles (five km) from Worcester. The band consisted of piccolo, flute, clarinet, two cornets, euphonium, three or four first and a similar number of second violins, occasional viola, ‘cello, double bass, and piano. Elgar coached the players and wrote and arranged their music, including quadrilles and polkas, for the unusual combination of instruments. The Musical Times wrote, “This practical experience proved to be of the greatest value to the young musician. … He acquired a practical knowledge of the capabilities of these different instruments. … He thereby got to know intimately the tone colour, the ins and outs of these and many other instruments.” He held the post for five years, from 1879, travelling to Powick once a week. Another post he held in his early days was professor of the violin at the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen.
Elgar thrived in Worcester’s musical circles. He played in the violins at the Worcester and Birmingham Festivals, and once played Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 and Stabat Mater under the composer’s baton. Elgar regularly played the bassoon in a wind quintet, alongside his brother Frank, an oboist (and conductor who ran his own wind ensemble). Elgar arranged numerous pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and others for the quintet, honing his arranging and compositional skills.
In his first trips abroad, Elgar visited Paris in 1880 and Leipzig in 1882. He heard Saint-Saëns play the organ at the Madeleine and attended concerts by first-rate orchestras. In 1882 he wrote, “I got pretty well dosed with Schumann (my ideal!), Brahms, Rubinstein & Wagner, so had no cause to complain.” In Leipzig he visited a friend, Helen Weaver, who was a student at the Conservatoire. They became engaged in the summer of 1883, but for unknown reasons the engagement was broken off the next year. Elgar was greatly distressed, and some of his later cryptic dedications of romantic music may have alluded to Helen and his feelings for her.
In 1882, seeking more professional orchestral experience, Elgar took a position as violinist in Birmingham with William Stockley’s Orchestra, for whom he played every concert for the next 7 years and where he later claimed he “learned all the music I know.” On 13th December 1883 he took part with Stockley in a performance at Birmingham Town Hall of one of his first works for full orchestra, the Sérénade mauresque – the first time one of his compositions had been performed by a professional orchestra. Stockley had invited him to conduct the piece but later recalled “he declined, and, further, insisted upon playing in his place in the orchestra. The consequence was that he had to appear, fiddle in hand, to acknowledge the genuine and hearty applause of the audience.”
When Elgar was 29, he took on a new pupil, Caroline Alice Roberts, daughter of the late Major-General Sir Henry Roberts, and published author of verse and prose fiction. Alice became his wife three years later. From then until her death, she acted as his business manager and social secretary, dealt with his mood swings, and was a perceptive musical critic. In her diary, she wrote, “The care of a genius is enough of a life work for any woman.”
They moved to London to be closer to the primary music world in England but Elgar’s compositions made little impact on London’s musical scene. August Manns conducted Elgar’s orchestral version of Salut d’amour and the Suite in D at the Crystal Palace, and two publishers accepted some of Elgar’s violin pieces, organ voluntaries, and part songs, but got little other work and so was obliged to leave London in 1891 and return with his wife and child to Worcestershire, where he could earn a living conducting local musical ensembles and teaching. They settled in Alice’s former home town, Great Malvern.
During the 1890s, Elgar gradually built up a reputation as a composer, chiefly of works for the great choral festivals of the English Midlands. The Black Knight (1892) and King Olaf (1896), both inspired by Longfellow, The Light of Life (1896) and Caractacus (1898) were all modestly successful, and he obtained a long-standing publisher in Novello and Co. Elgar was catching the attention of prominent critics, but their reviews were polite rather than enthusiastic. Although he was in demand as a festival composer, he was only just getting by financially and felt unappreciated. In 1898, he said he was “very sick at heart over music” and hoped to find a way to succeed with a larger work. His friend August Jaeger tried to lift his spirits: “A day’s attack of the blues … will not drive away your desire, your necessity, which is to exercise those creative faculties which a kind providence has given you. Your time of universal recognition will come.”
In 1899, that prediction suddenly came true. At the age of 42, Elgar produced the Enigma Variations, which were premiered in London under the baton of the eminent German conductor Hans Richter. In Elgar’s own words, “I have sketched a set of Variations on an original theme. The Variations have amused me because I’ve labelled them with the nicknames of my particular friends … that is to say I’ve written the variations each one to represent the mood of the ‘party’ (the person) … and have written what I think they would have written – if they were asses enough to compose.” He dedicated the work “To my friends pictured within”. Probably the best known variation is “Nimrod”, depicting Jaeger. Purely musical considerations led Elgar to omit variations depicting Arthur Sullivan and Hubert Parry, whose styles he tried but failed to incorporate in the variations. The large-scale work was received with general acclaim for its originality, charm and craftsmanship, and it established Elgar as the pre-eminent British composer of his generation. The Enigma Variations were well received in Germany and Italy, and remain to the present day a worldwide concert staple.
Elgar is probably best known popularly for the first of the five Pomp and Circumstance Marches, which were composed between 1901 and 1930. It is familiar to millions of television viewers all over the world every year who watch the Last Night of the Proms, where it is traditionally performed. When the theme of the slower middle section (technically called the “trio”) of the first march came into his head, he told his friend Dora Penny, “I’ve got a tune that will knock ’em – will knock ’em flat.” When the first march was played in 1901 at a London Promenade Concert, it was conducted by Henry J. Wood, who later wrote that the audience “rose and yelled … the one and only time in the history of the Promenade concerts that an orchestral item was accorded a double encore.”
Elgar was knighted at Buckingham Palace on 5th July 1904. Between 1905 and 1908, he held the post of Peyton Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham. He had accepted the post reluctantly, feeling that a composer should not head a school of music. He was not at ease in the role, and his lectures caused controversy, with his attacks on the critics and on English music in general:
Vulgarity in the course of time may be refined. Vulgarity often goes with inventiveness … but the commonplace mind can never be anything but commonplace. An Englishman will take you into a large room, beautifully proportioned, and will point out to you that it is white – all over white – and somebody will say, ‘What exquisite taste’. You know in your own mind, in your own soul, that it is not taste at all, that it is the want of taste, that is mere evasion. English music is white, and evades everything.”
He regretted the controversy and was glad to hand on the post to his friend Granville Bantock in 1908. His new life as a celebrity was a mixed blessing, as it interrupted his privacy, and he was in ill-health often. He complained to Jaeger in 1903, “My life is one continual giving up of little things which I love.” Both W. S. Gilbert and Thomas Hardy sought to collaborate with Elgar in this decade. Elgar refused, but would have collaborated with George Bernard Shaw had Shaw been willing.
When World War I broke out, Elgar was horrified at the prospect of the carnage, but his patriotic feelings were nonetheless aroused. He composed “A Song for Soldiers”, which he later withdrew. He signed up as a special constable in the local police and later joined the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve of the army. He composed patriotic works, Carillon, a recitation for speaker and orchestra in honor of Belgium and Polonia, an orchestral piece in honor of Poland. Land of Hope and Glory, already popular, became still more so, and Elgar wished (in vain) to have new, less nationalistic, words sung to the tune.
Although in the 1920s Elgar’s music was no longer in fashion, his admirers continued to present his works when possible. From 1926 onwards, Elgar made a series of recordings of his own works. Described by the music writer Robert Philip as “the first composer to take the gramophone seriously,” he had already recorded much of his music by the early acoustic-recording process for His Master’s Voice (HMV) from 1914 onwards, but the introduction of electrical microphones in 1925 transformed the gramophone from a novelty into a realistic medium for reproducing orchestral and choral music. Elgar was the first composer to take full advantage of the new technology. Fred Gaisberg of HMV, who produced Elgar’s recordings, set up a series of sessions to capture on disc the composer’s interpretations of his major orchestral works, including the Enigma Variations, Falstaff, the first and second symphonies, and the cello and violin concertos. For most of these, the orchestra was the LSO, but the Variations were played by the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra. Later in the series of recordings, Elgar also conducted two newly founded orchestras, Boult’s BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Thomas Beecham’s London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Elgar’s recordings were released on 78-rpm discs by both HMV and RCA Victor. After World War II, the 1932 recording of the Violin Concerto with the teenage Menuhin as soloist remained available on 78 and later on LP, but the other recordings were out of the catalogues for some years. When they were reissued by EMI on LP in the 1970s, they caused surprise to many by their fast tempos, in contrast to the slower speeds adopted by many conductors in the years since Elgar’s death.
In November 1931, Elgar was filmed by Pathé for a newsreel depicting a recording session of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 at the opening of EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London. It is believed to be the only surviving sound film of Elgar, who makes a brief remark before conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, asking the musicians to “play this tune as though you’ve never heard it before.” A memorial plaque to Elgar at Abbey Road was unveiled on 24 June 1993.
In his final years, Elgar experienced a musical revival. The BBC organized a festival of his works to celebrate his 75th birthday, in 1932. He flew to Paris in 1933 to conduct the Violin Concerto for Menuhin. While in France, he visited his fellow composer Frederick Delius at his house at Grez-sur-Loing. He was sought out by younger musicians such as Adrian Boult, Malcolm Sargent and John Barbirolli, who had championed his music when it was out of fashion. He began work on an opera, The Spanish Lady, and accepted a commission from the BBC to compose a Third Symphony. His final illness, however, prevented their completion. Inoperable colorectal cancer was discovered during an operation on 8th October 1933. He told his consulting doctor, Arthur Thomson, that he had no faith in an afterlife: “I believe there is nothing but complete oblivion.” Elgar died on 23rd February 1934 at the age of 76 and was buried next to his wife at St. Wulstan’s Roman Catholic Church in Little Malvern.
It did not take me long to pick Malvern pudding as today’s recipe, given Elgar’s love for Malvern and the Malvern Hills. It originates in Malvern in Georgian times, and is basically a buttery fruit (usually apples) base, topped with a special custard, and either baked or grilled. Malvern pudding is listed as “endangered” in English cuisine.
For the apple base
1kg/2lb 2oz cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
50gm/2oz granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons
For the apples: heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and apples and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the apples have softened. Add the sugar and lemon zest, stirring well, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Transfer the apples to an ovenproof dish.
Preheat the broiler to medium.
For the topping: heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add half the butter and cook until foaming. Stir in the cornflour and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened and smooth. Gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking continuously, until all of the milk is incorporated and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the granulated sugar and beaten eggs until well combined. Spoon the mixture over the apples in the ovenproof dish.
Mix the demerara sugar and ground cinnamon together in a bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the dish and dot with the remaining butter. Grill for 5-6 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling.
The official opening ceremony of the Royal Albert Hall took place on this date in 1871. A welcoming speech was given by Edward, the Prince of Wales; Queen Victoria was too overcome to speak. At some point, the Queen remarked that the Hall reminded her of the British constitution. I haven’t the vaguest idea what she meant by this. There is no written British constitution. At best it can be described as a hodge-podge of statutes beginning with Magna Carta. Maybe the Hall is similar? (i.e. a mélange of all things British).
Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington, London, best known for holding the Proms concerts annually each summer since 1941. It has a capacity (depending on configuration of the event) of up to 5,272 seats. The Hall is a registered charity held in trust for the nation and receives no public or government funding.
Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world’s leading artists from many performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK’s most treasured and distinctive buildings. Each year it hosts more than 390 shows in the main auditorium, including classical, rock and pop concerts, ballet, opera, film screenings with live orchestra, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets. A further 400 events are held each year in the non-auditorium spaces. I’ve been to concerts there a few times, the first being a sort of hippie-fest featuring the Incredible String Band (look them up!!) in 1968.
The Hall was originally supposed to have been called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed to the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences by Queen Victoria upon laying the Hall’s foundation stone in 1867, in memory of her late husband consort, Prince Albert who had died six years earlier. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort – the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the road Kensington Gore.
The Hall, a Grade I listed building, is an ellipse in plan, with major and minor axes of 83 m (272 ft) and 72 m (236 ft). The great glass and wrought-iron dome roofing the Hall is 41 m (135 ft) high. It was originally designed with a capacity for 8,000 people and has accommodated as many as 9,000 (although modern safety restrictions mean that the maximum permitted capacity is now 5,544 including standing in the Gallery).
Around the outside of the building is a great mosaic frieze, depicting “The Triumph of Arts and Sciences”, in reference to the Hall’s dedication. Proceeding anti-clockwise from the north side the sixteen subjects of the frieze are: (1) Various Countries of the World bringing in their Offerings to the Exhibition of 1851; (2) Music; (3) Sculpture; (4) Painting; (5) Princes, Art Patrons and Artists; (6) Workers in Stone; (7) Workers in Wood and Brick; (8) Architecture; (9) The Infancy of the Arts and Sciences; (10) Agriculture; (11) Horticulture and Land Surveying; (12) Astronomy and Navigation; (13) A Group of Philosophers, Sages and Students; (14) Engineering; (15) The Mechanical Powers; and (16) Pottery and Glassmaking.
Above the frieze is an inscription in 12-inch-high (300 mm) terracotta letters that combines historical fact and Biblical quotations: “This hall was erected for the advancement of the arts and sciences and works of industry of all nations in fulfilment of the intention of Albert Prince Consort. The site was purchased with the proceeds of the Great Exhibition of the year MDCCCLI. The first stone of the Hall was laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria on the twentieth day of May MDCCCLXVII and it was opened by Her Majesty the Twenty Ninth of March in the year MDCCCLXXI. Thine O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty. For all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. The wise and their works are in the hand of God. Glory be to God on high and on earth peace.”
A concert followed the opening by Victoria, when the Hall’s acoustic problems became immediately apparent. Engineers first attempted to solve the strong echo by suspending a canvas awning below the dome. This helped and also sheltered concertgoers from the sun, but the problem was not solved: it used to be jokingly said that the Hall was “the only place where a British composer could be sure of hearing his work twice.” Nowadays there are hanging baffles to combat the echo.
The BBC Promenade Concerts, known as “The Proms” are the most famous feature of the Hall. In 1942, following the destruction of the Queen’s Hall in an air raid, the Hall was chosen as the new venue for the proms. In 1944 with increased danger to the Hall, part of the proms were held in the Bedford Corn Exchange. Following the end of World War II the proms continued in the Hall and have done so annually every summer since. The event was founded in 1895, and now each season consists of over 70 concerts, in addition to a series of events at other venues across the United Kingdom on the last night. Jiří Bělohlávek described The Proms as “the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival” of all such events in the world of classical music festivals.
Proms (short for promenade concerts) is a term which arose from the original practice of the audience promenading, or strolling, in some areas during the concert. Proms concert-goers, particularly those who stand, are sometimes described as “Promenaders”, but are most commonly referred to as “Prommers.”
“Last Night” has become a national institution televised and celebrated worldwide. They were originally conducted by Proms founder, Sir Henry Wood, and then by Sir Malcolm Sargent (under whose baton I first heard them). Sargent was a wonderful master of ceremonies – hilariously grandiloquent. When Sir Colin Davis took over from Sargent in 1967 he tried to downplay the “Britishness” of the event, in particular by trying to exclude “Rule Britannia” as being overtly symbolic of British colonial tyranny. Well, it is, that is, if you treat it literally. Davis had to lighten up, though, at the outcry. Tradition won. The point is that there is a mocking tone to its rendition – especially these days – and is, at best, patriotic and not jingoistic. Here it is, to make my point:
And here’s “Jerusalem,” another Last Night fixture:
I don’t see any other choice than to give Mrs Beeton’s trifle recipe as a tribute to the Hall – both outrageous Victorian masterpieces. I love her description of adding the sherry and brandy which amounts to “add a bucket load” but using very prim tones. Every trifle I have ever made following this recipe has vanished in minutes, no matter how large I have made it.
TO MAKE A TRIFLE.
INGREDIENTS.—For the whip, 1 pint of cream, 3 oz. of pounded sugar, the whites of 2 eggs, a small glass of sherry or raisin wine. For the trifle, 1 pint of custard, made with 8 eggs to a pint of milk; 6 small sponge-cakes, or 6 slices of sponge-cake; 12 macaroons, 2 dozen ratafias, 2 oz. of sweet almonds, the grated rind of 1 lemon, a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam, 1/2 pint of sherry or sweet wine, 6 tablespoonfuls of brandy.
Mode.—The whip to lay over the top of the trifle should be made the day before it is required for table, as the flavour is better, and it is much more solid than when prepared the same day. Put into a large bowl the pounded sugar, the whites of the eggs, which should be beaten to a stiff froth, a glass of sherry or sweet wine, and the cream. Whisk these ingredients well in a cool place, and take off the froth with a skimmer as fast as it rises, and put it on a sieve to drain; continue the whisking till there is sufficient of the whip, which must be put away in a cool place to drain. The next day, place the sponge-cakes, macaroons, and ratafias at the bottom of a trifle-dish; pour over them 1/2 pint of sherry or sweet wine, mixed with 6 tablespoonfuls of brandy, and, should this proportion of wine not be found quite sufficient, add a little more, as the cakes should be well soaked. Over the cakes put the grated lemon-rind, the sweet almonds, blanched and cut into strips, and a layer of raspberry or strawberry jam. Make a good custard by recipe No. 1423, using 8 instead of 5 eggs to the pint of milk, and let this cool a little; then pour it over the cakes, &c. The whip being made the day previously, and the trifle prepared, there remains nothing to do now but heap the whip lightly over the top: this should stand as high as possible, and it may be garnished with strips of bright currant jelly, crystallized sweetmeats, or flowers; the small coloured comfits are sometimes used for the purpose of garnishing a trifle, but they are now considered rather old-fashioned.