Edward Elgar  
Edward Elgar
Sir Edward Elgar, in full Sir Edward William Elgar (born June 2, 1857, Broadheath, Worcestershire, Eng.—died Feb. 23, 1934, Worcester, Worcestershire), English composer whose works in the orchestral idiom of late 19th-century Romanticism—characterized by bold tunes, striking colour effects, and mastery of large forms—stimulated a renaissance of English music.

The son of an organist and music dealer, Elgar left school at age 15 and worked briefly in a lawyer’s office. He was an excellent violinist, played the bassoon, and spent periods as a bandmaster and church organist. He had no formal training in composition. After working in London (1889–91), he went to Malvern, Worcestershire, and began to establish a reputation as a composer. He produced several large choral works, notably the oratorio Lux Christi (1896; The Light of Life), before composing in 1896 the popular Enigma Variations for orchestra. The variations are based on the countermelody to an unheard theme, which Elgar said was a well-known tune he would not identify—hence the enigma. Repeated attempts to discover it have been unsuccessful. All but the last of the 14 variations refer cryptically to friends of Elgar, the exception being his own musical self-portrait. This work, highly esteemed by Hans Richter, who conducted the first performance in 1899, brought Elgar recognition as a leading composer and became his most frequently performed composition. In 1900 there followed another major work, the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, which many consider his masterpiece. Based on a poem by John Henry Cardinal Newman, it dispensed with the traditional admixture of recitatives, arias, and choruses, using instead a continuous musical texture as in the musical dramas of Wagner. The work was not well received at its first performance in Birmingham, but after it was acclaimed in Germany, it won British favour.


Elgar, a Roman Catholic, planned to continue with a trilogy of religious oratorios, but he completed only two: The Apostles (1903) and The Kingdom (1906). In these less successful works, representative themes are interwoven in the manner of the leitmotivs of Wagner. Other vocal works include the choral cantata, Caractacus (1898), and the song cycle for contralto, Sea Pictures (1900).

In 1904 Elgar was knighted, and from 1905 to 1908 he was the University of Birmingham’s first professor of music. During World War I he wrote occasional patriotic pieces. After the death of his wife in 1920, he curtailed his music writing severely, and in 1929 he returned to Worcestershire. Friendship with Bernard Shaw eventually stimulated Elgar to further composition, and at his death he left unfinished a third symphony, a piano concerto, and an opera.

Elgar’s principal works of a programmatic nature are the overture Cockaigne, or In London Town (1901), and the “symphonic study” Falstaff (1913). Of his five Pomp and Circumstance marches (1901–07; 1930), the first became particularly famous. Also highly esteemed are his two symphonies (1908 and 1911), the Introduction and Allegro for strings (1905), and his Violin Concerto (1910) and Cello Concerto (1919).

The first English composer of international stature since Henry Purcell (1659–95), Elgar liberated his country’s music from its insularity. He left to younger composers the rich harmonic resources of late Romanticism and stimulated the subsequent national school of English music. His own idiom was cosmopolitan, yet his interest in the oratorio is grounded in the English musical tradition. Especially in England, Elgar is esteemed both for his own music and for his role in heralding the 20th-century English musical renascence.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Elgar and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Queen's Hall
The Best of Elgar
Tema e Variações Para Orquestra, enigma, Opus 36
1. Introdução de Variação 1: C.A.E.
2. Variação 2- H.D.S.-P
3. Variação 3- R.B.T
4. Variação 4- W.M.B
5. Variação 5- R.P.A
6. Variação 6- Ysobel
7. Variação 7- Troyte
8. Variação 8- W.N
9. Variação 9- Nimrod
10. Variação 10: Intermezo: Dorabella
11. Variação 11- G.R.S
12. Variação 12- B.G.N
13. Variação 13- Romanza
14. Variação 14: Finale: E.D.U
Concerto Para Violoncelo e Orquestra em Mi Menor, Opus 85
15. Adagio - Moderato
16. Lento - Allegro Molto
17. Adagio
18. Allegro, Ma Non Troppo
19. Marcha Militar #1 Em Ré Maior, Opus 39, Pompa e Circunstância
Edward Elgar : Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55
Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55
Sir John Barbirolli (Conductor)
Halle Orchestra

(Rec.1956) Public Domain

Sir Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55 is one of his two completed symphonies. The first performance was given by the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Hans Richter in Manchester, England, on 3 December 1908. It was widely known that Elgar had been planning a symphony for more than ten years, and the announcement that he had finally completed it aroused enormous interest. The critical reception was enthusiastic, and the public response unprecedented. The symphony achieved what The Musical Times described as "immediate and phenomenal success", with a hundred performances in Britain, continental Europe and America within just over a year of its première.
The symphony is regularly programmed by British orchestras, and features occasionally in concert programmes in North America and Europe. It is well represented on record, with recordings ranging from the composer's 1931 version with the London Symphony Orchestra to modern digital recordings, of which more than 20 have been issued since the mid 1980s.

Elgar - Symphony No 2 in E-flat major, Op 63 - Petrenko
Symphony No 2 in E-flat major, Op 63

1 Allegro vivace e nobilmente
2 Larghetto
3 Rondo
4 Moderato e maestoso

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko, conductor

London, Proms 2014

Edward Elgar Symphony # 3, Bruce Turner reconstitution
Elgar - Enigma Variations, Op 36 - Temirkanov
Enigma Variations, Op 36

St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Yuri Temirkanov, conductor

Tasmin Little - Elgar Violin Concerto in B minor, Op.61 - Sir Andrew Davis
Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61

I. Allegro (00:00)
II. Andante (18:37)
III. Allegro molto (30:38)

Tasmin Little, violin
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
BBC Symphony Orchestra

Elgar - Violin concerto - Menuhin
Violin concerto op.61

I. Allegro 0:00
II. Andante 17:25
III. Allegro molto - Cadenza - Allegro molto 30:26

Yehudi Menuhin
London Symphony Orchestra
Edward Elgar
Studio recording, London, 14 & 15.VII.1932

Edward Elgar - The Apostles, Op. 49
London Symphony Orchestra - Richard Hickox, London Symphony Chorus, Roderick Elms - organ
Elgar - The Kingdom, Op 51 - Davis
The Kingdom, Op 51

1 In the Upper Room.
The disciples meet and the new Apostle, Matthias, is chosen.
2 At the Beautiful Gate.
The two Marys remember Jesus's actions in the temple.
3 Pentecost.
The disciples are visited by the Holy Spirit and preach to the multitudes.
4 The Sign of Healing.
Peter and John heal the lame man and are imprisoned.
5 The Upper Room.
Peter and John have been released; the disciples break bread and sing the Lord's Prayer.

Erin Wall (Blessed Virgin)
Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mary Magdalene)
Andrew Staples (St John)
Christopher Purves (St Peter)

BBC National Chorus of Wales
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor

Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto (FULL) in E minor op 85-Sol Gabetta & Danmarks Radio
Edward Elgar - Severn Suite, Op. 87a, version for full orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra - Richard Hickox, London Symphony Chorus - Stephen Westrop
Edward Elgar - The Light of Life, Op. 29
London Symphony Orchestra - Richard Hickox, London Symphony Chorus - Stephen Westrop, Judith Howarth - soprano, Linda finnie - contralto, Arthur Davies - tenor, John shirley-Quirk - baritone
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