Edward Elgar was an English composer, though much of his influence came from mainland Europe. He was born in 1857 and died in 1934. He was born into a musical family, of sorts. His father was a piano tuner and owned a small music shop where he sold printed music and instruments. His mother was very supportive of the creative education and made sure his music studies continued. He was the 4th of 7 children so they did not have a lot of money.
As Elgar approached the end of his general education, he desired to go to a music conservatory in Germany but was unable to do so. His father just could not afford to send him. So, he left school at 15 or 16 and took a clerk position at a solicitor’s office. He could not abide the desk job and soon left to make his way in the music world.
He did odd jobs and worked all he could. He conducted, played instruments (he was a talented pianist and bassoonist, plus he knew many other instruements), wrote music, taught private students, and more. He achieved a bit of success with his early compositions but did not gain great reknown until 1899. Prior to this success, he had taken on a student, Caroline Alice Roberts, a wealthy young lady who was also an author. They were married in 1889. She became a sort of muse and inspiration to Elgar, a force behind what was to become some of his most well-known works.
Likely Elgar’s most well-known piece is the first of his five Pomp and Circumstance Marches. He wrote this one in 1901. If you think you don’t recognize it, wait until about 1’50” to see if you don’t know it.
Elgar died a well known composer but he didn’t write all that much after his wife passed away in 1920. She was truly his muse. He left several incomplete pieces when he died several years after his wife. Regardless, he is a great composer to listen to.
Some of his other pieces:
Salut d’amour is said to have been written as an engagement gift to Caroline Alice Roberts in 1888.
Serenade for Strings is one of Elgar’s early works and won him a little bit of international reknown. It is from about 1892. It is a 3 movement work.
If you are looking for more information on Sir Edward Elgar, here are some additional sites to visit.
Lori, At Home.