In the introduction to the Elgar's "The Spirit of the Lord", the prologue to The Apostles Op. 49, the score has lines which looks like octave signs, but which have the letter 'L' instead of 8va , e.g. in bar 3 in the below:

Apostles full score p1

Does anyone know what these mean?

  • Unusually, the Violin I and contrabass parts even get L lines over rests.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 12:56
  • @Dekkadeci The "L"'s seem not to correspond to specific parts. They occur at the top, middle, and bottom of the score, so perhaps are visual cues to the conductor. They seem to correspond to the occurrences of specific thematic material.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 13:59
  • @Dekkadeci I pretty much agree with Aaron - my assumption was that those lines show that it applies to the strings as a whole. I haven't been able to source individual parts, but it would be interesting to know if the Violin I part has this mark or not.
    – bobajob
    Commented Jan 17, 2022 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


I could not find an orchestral score for The Apostles on IMSLP, but the same notation can be found in other Elgar compositions, like The Kingdom, which seems to be part of the same edition, so it also follows the same "standard":

The Kingdom

That score includes a page with the composer's notes, which explains those symbols as his own version of tempo change notations:

Elgard's notation


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