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The character of Sir John Falstaff – a vain, corpulent and cowardly knight - appears in Shakespeare’s two 'Henry IV' plays and 'The Merry Wives of Windsor'. Falstaff has also inspired a number of great classical works.
Elgar thought his symphonic poem - based on the Falstaff of 'Henry IV' - was his finest orchestral piece, and many Elgar fans agree, but it has not become a popular favourite. According to Elgar, Falstaff is depicted in the music as 'a goodly, portly man, of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye and a most noble carriage.'
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