Sir Edward Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO born 2nd June 1857 was an English composer. His first major orchestral work, Enigma Variations, was greeted with acclaim. He also composed oratorios, chamber music, symphonies and instrumental concertos.
His compositions also include the Pomp and Circumstance Marches of which No. 1 is often sung to the words "Land of Hope and Glory", notably at The Last Night of the Proms. He was appointed Master of the King`s Musick in 1924.
Edward William Elgar was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, Worcestershire, to William Elgar, a piano tuner and music dealer, and his wife Ann.
His delightful Salut d`Amour, one of his earliest successes, dates from 1889, when Elgar had just turned 30: this proved to be a year of great happiness for him, for at that time he married Caroline Alice Roberts - a lady who was to mean so much to him as man and musician. It is not too fanciful to hear, in this charming piece, a musical manifestation of his love for her.
In the earlier part of Elgar`s career as a composer, he wrote several short pieces which became very popular indeed. Chanson de Matin is one such, the second of a pair (the other being Chanson de nuit), which carried his name far and wide before his larger orchestra works appeared. It was published in several versions at once: for string orchestra, for small orchestra, for violin and piano and so on - so it is almost impossible to say, with any degree of certainty, which was the original version. But Elgar himself was a good violinist, and it may well be that he would have played this tune through to himself on the violin, before adding a piano part and sending it off to his publishers for their consideration. In any event, it remains a beautiful theme of considerable character and style.
If Elgar waited until he was 42 before his major breakthrough, his fame spread rapidly: so much so that by the outbreak of World War 1 he was arguably the most celebrated living British composer, whose reputation had been cemented by a succession of large scale choral and orchestral works. In a curious way, the War changed Elgar - as it touched all Europeans - as his public and private utterances became more sharply defined.
During the War Elgar produced, on the one hand, a series of great patriotic works, and on the other, as the War came to its end, a series of three great chamber compositions: the Violin Sonata opus 82, the String Quartet opus 83 and the Piano Quintet opus 84.
At the end of his life Elgar began work on an opera, The Spanish Lady, and accepted a commission from the BBC to compose a Third Symphony. His final illness prevented their completion.
He died on 23 February 1934. Within four months, two more great English composers - Gustav Holst and Frederick Delius - were also dead.