Oddly Enough

Taking Elgar off £20 bank note a "disgrace"

LONDON (Reuters) - The removal of British composer Edward Elgar from the 20 pound note is a “national disgrace” as it leaves the arts unrepresented on bank notes, a university music professor said on Tuesday.

A woman holds a Bank of England twenty pound note with the image of Edward Elgar on one side in Edinburgh, Scotland June 29, 2010 in this photo illustration. REUTERS/David Moir

The Bank of England has been phasing out Elgar since 2007, gradually replacing him on the 20 pound note with 18th century economist Adam Smith. He will finally be withdrawn from circulation on Wednesday.

Elgar, an early 20th century composer who penned the music to which the words of patriotic British song Land of Hope and Glory were set, had featured on the note for 11 years.

“Edward Elgar is an iconic figure and a fitting symbol of artistic inspiration in England,” said Jeremy Dibble, a music professor at Durham University.

“Dropping Elgar tells us much about the way in which the arts are now viewed in England. Bank notes should applaud the greatest aspects of England and English culture.”

Almost 60 percent of all bank notes in circulation in Britain are 20 pound notes.

The five, 10 and 50 pound notes feature, respectively, pictures of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, naturalist Charles Darwin and John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England.

“The withdrawal of the Edward Elgar 20 pound note is a national disgrace as the arts will no longer be visible on our notes,” said Dibble. “Science and economics are important but so too are the arts.”

Historical figures previously used on Bank of England notes include physicist Isaac Newton, novelist Charles Dickens, playwright William Shakespeare, architect Christopher Wren and chemist Michael Faraday.

The central bank periodically changes the design of bank notes in circulation, largely to improve security features.

According to a Bank of England list, names suggested by the public for use on bank notes include the late Princess Diana, the Beatles, footballer David Beckham and war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Editing by Steve Addison