Edward Elgar

[el-ger, -gahr]

Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English Romantic composer. Several of his first major orchestral works, including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, were greeted with acclaim. He also composed oratorios, chamber music, symphonies, instrumental concertos, and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.


Early years

Edward Elgar was born in the small village of Lower Broadheath outside Worcester, England to William Elgar, a piano tuner and music dealer, and his wife Anne (née Greening). The fourth of seven children, Elgar's siblings were Henry John (Harry) (15 October 1848– 5 May 1864), Lucy Ann (Loo) (born 29 May 1852), Susannah Mary (Pollie) (born 28 December 1854), Frederick Joseph (Jo) (born 28 August 1859), Francis Thomas (Frank) (born 1 October 1861), and Helen Agnes (Dott or Dot) (born 1 January 1864). His mother, Anne, had converted to Catholicism shortly before Edward's birth, so Edward was baptised and brought up as a Roman Catholic.

Elgar was an early riser, and would often turn to reading Voltaire, Drayton historical classics, Longfellow and other works encouraged by his mother. By the age of eight, he was taking piano and violin lessons, and would often listen to his father playing organ at St. George's church, and soon took it up also. His prime interest, however, was the violin, and his first written music was for that instrument.

Surrounded by sheet music, instruments, and music textbooks in his father's shop in Worcester's High Street, the young Elgar became self-taught in music theory. On warm summer days, he would take manuscripts into the countryside to study them (he was a passionate and adventurous early cyclist from the age of 5). Thus there began for him a strong association between music and nature. As he was later to say, "There is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require."

At the age of 15, Elgar had hoped to go to Leipzig, Germany to study music, but lacking the funds he instead left school and began working for a local solicitor. Around this time he made his first public appearances as a violinist and organist. After a few months, he left the solicitor and embarked on a musical career, giving piano and violin lessons, and working occasionally in his father's shop. Elgar was an active member of the Worcester Glee Club, along with his father, and he accompanied singers, played violin, composed and arranged works, and even conducted for the first time. At 22 he took up the post of bandmaster at the Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum in Powick, three miles south-west of Worcester, a progressive institution which believed in the recuperative powers of music. He composed here too; some of the pieces for the asylum orchestra (music in dance forms) were rediscovered and performed locally in 1996.

In many ways, his years as a young Worcestershire violinist were his happiest. He played in the first violins at the Worcester and Birmingham Festivals, and one great experience was to play Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 6 and Stabat Mater under the composer's baton. As part of a wind quintet and for his musical friends, he arranged dozens of pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and other masters, honing his arranging and compositional skills, and applying them to his earliest pieces. Although somewhat solitary and introspective by nature, Elgar thrived in Worcester's musical circles.

In his first trips abroad in 1880-82, Elgar visited Paris and Leipzig, attended concerts by first rate orchestras, and was exposed to the music of Richard Wagner, then the rage. Returning to his more provincial milieu increased his desire for a wider fame. He often went to London in an attempt to get his works published, but this period in his life found him frequently despondent and low on money. He wrote to a friend in April 1884, "My prospects are about as hopeless as ever ... I am not wanting in energy I think, so sometimes I conclude that 'tis want of ability...I have no money--not a cent."

At 29, through his teaching, he met (Caroline) Alice Roberts, daughter of the late Major-General Sir Henry Roberts and a published author of verse and prose fiction. Eight years older than Elgar, she became his wife three years later, against the wishes of her family. They were married on 8 May 1889, at Brompton Oratory. Alice's faith in him and her courage in marrying 'beneath her class' were strongly supportive to his career. She dealt with his mood swings and was a generous musical critic. She was also his business manager and social secretary. She did her best to gain him the attention of influential society, though with limited success. In time he would learn to accept the honours given him, realizing that they mattered more to her and her social class. She also gave up some of her personal aspirations to further his career. In her diary she later admitted, "The care of a genius is enough of a life work for any woman." As an engagement present, Elgar presented her with the short violin and piano piece Salut d'Amour. With Alice's encouragement, the Elgars moved to London to be closer to the centre of British musical life, and Edward started composing in earnest. The stay was unsuccessful, however, and they were obliged to return to Great Malvern, where Edward could earn a living teaching and conducting local musical ensembles. Though disappointed at the London episode, the return to the country proved better for Elgar's health and as a base of musical inspiration, bringing him closer to nature and to his friends.

Growing reputation

During the 1890s Elgar gradually built up a reputation as a composer, chiefly of works for the great choral festivals of the Midlands. The Black Knight and King Olaf (1896), both inspired by Longfellow, The Light of Life and Caractacus were all modestly successful and he obtained a long-standing publisher in Novello and Company. He also generously recommended the young composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to the Three Choirs Festival for a concert piece, which helped establish the younger man's career. Elgar was catching the eyes of the prominent critics, although their reviews were still lukewarm, and he was in demand as a festival composer, but he was just getting by financially and not feeling appreciated the way he wanted to be. In 1898, he continued to be "very sick at heart over music" and hoped to find a way to succeed with a larger work. His friend August Jaeger tried to lift his spirits, "A day's attack of the blues...will not drive away your desire, your necessity, which is to exercise those creative faculties which a kind providence has given you. Your time of universal recognition will come.

In 1899, that prediction suddenly came true. At the age of 42, Elgar's produced his first major orchestral work, the Enigma Variations, which was premiered in London under the baton of the eminent German conductor Hans Richter. In Elgar's own words, "I have sketched a set of Variations on an original theme. The Variations have amused me because I've labelled them with the nicknames of my particular friends ... that is to say I've written the variations each one to represent the mood of the 'party' (the person) ... and have written what I think they would have written--if they were asses enough to compose". Elgar dedicated the work "To my friends pictured within".

The large-scale work was received with general acclaim, heralded for its originality, charm, and fine craftsmanship, and it established Elgar as the pre-eminent British composer of his generation. It is formally titled Variations on an Original Theme; the word "Enigma" appears over the first six measures of music, which led to the familiar version of the title. The enigma is that, although there are fourteen variations on the "original theme", the 'enigma' theme, which Elgar said 'runs through and over the whole set' is never heard. Many later commentators have observed that although Elgar is today regarded as a characteristically English composer, his orchestral music and this work in particular share much with the Central European tradition typified at the time by the work of Richard Strauss. Indeed, the Enigma Variations were well-received in Germany, and persist to this day as a world-wide concert favourite.

The following year saw the production at the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival of his choral setting of Cardinal Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius. Despite a disastrous first performance due to poorly-prepared performers, the German premiere was much better received and the work was established within a few years as one of Elgar's greatest. It is now regarded as one of the finest examples of English choral music from any era.

Elgar is probably best known for the five Pomp and Circumstance Marches, composed between 1901 and 1930. Shortly after he composed the first march, Elgar set the trio melody to words by A. C. Benson in his Coronation Ode to mark the coronation of King Edward VII. The suggestion had already been made (allegedly by the future King himself) that words should be fitted to the broad tune which formed the trio section of this march. Against the advice of his friends, Elgar suggested that Benson furnish further words to allow him to include it in the new work. The result was Land of Hope and Glory, which formed the finale of the Ode and was also issued (with slightly different words) as a separate song. The work was immensely popular and is now considered an unofficial national anthem. At last, he had made the leap from accomplished back-country musician to England's foremost composer. It also gained Elgar the highest recognition he could have dreamed of--honorary degrees, a knighthood, special royal audiences, and a triumphal three-day festival of his music at Covent Garden attended by the King and Queen.

In 1904 Elgar and his family moved to Plas Gwyn, a large house on the outskirts of Hereford, overlooking the River Wye, and they lived there until 1911.

Between 1902 and 1914 Elgar enjoyed phenomenal success, made four visits to the USA including one conducting tour, and earned considerable fees from the performance of his music. Between 1905 and 1908 Elgar held the post of Peyton Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham (he was succeeded by his friend Granville Bantock). His lectures there caused controversy owing to remarks he made about other English composers and English music in general; he was quoted as saying "English music is white - it evades everything". The University of Birmingham's Special Collections contain an archive of letters written by Elgar. His new life as a celebrity was a mixed blessing as it often provoked ill-health from his high-strung nature and interrupted his privacy. He complained to Alfred Jaeger in 1903, "My life is one continual giving up of little things which I love.

Elgar's Symphony No. 1 (1908) was given one hundred performances in its first year. The Violin Concerto in B minor (1910) was commissioned by the world-renowned violinist Fritz Kreisler and was a resounding success, premiered by Kreisler with the Philharmonic Society of London, the composer conducting. In 1911, the year of the completion of his Symphony No. 2, he had the Order of Merit bestowed upon him. In 1912 he moved back to London, again to be closer to musical society but to the detriment of his love of the countryside and to his general mood.

Elgar's musical legacy is primarily orchestral and choral, but he did write for soloists and smaller instrumental groups. His one work for brass band, the Severn Suite (later arranged by the composer for orchestra), remains an important part of the brass band repertoire. This work was dedicated to his friend George Bernard Shaw. It is occasionally performed in its arrangement by Sir Ivor Atkins for organ as the composer's second Organ Sonata; Elgar's first, much earlier (1895) Organ Sonata was written specifically for the instrument in a highly orchestral style, and remains a cornerstone of the English Romantic organ repertoire.

Later years

During World War I his music began to fall out of fashion. The war was overturning his world and his time. He himself grew to hate his 'Pomp and Circumstance' March No.1 with its popular tune (identified as 'Land of Hope and Glory' when the words were later added), which he felt had been made into a jingoistic song, not in keeping with the tragic loss of life in the war. This was captured in the film Elgar by Ken Russell. After the death of his wife in 1920, loneliness and declining interest in his art fostered little in the way of new works of importance. Shortly before her death he composed the elegiac Cello Concerto, often described as his last masterpiece.

Elgar lived in the village of Kempsey, Worcestershire from 1923 to 1927. It was during this time, a few weeks before the performance of his Empire March and eight songs Pageant of Empire for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, that he was made Master of the King's Musick.

He was the first composer to make extensive recordings of his own compositions. His Master's Voice (HMV) recorded much of his music acoustically from 1914 onwards and then began a series of electrical recordings in 1926 that continued until 1933, including his Enigma Variations, Falstaff, the first and second symphonies, his cello and violin concertos, all of the Pomp and Circumstance marches, and other orchestral works. Part of a 1927 rehearsal of the second symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra was also recorded and later issued.

In November 1931, Elgar was filmed by Pathe for a newsreel depicting a recording session of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 at the opening of the famous Abbey Road Studios in London. It is believed to be the only surviving sound film of Elgar, who makes a brief remark before conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, asking the musicians to "play this tune as though you've never heard it before." Silent films of the composer have also survived.

In the 1932 recording of the Violin Concerto, the aging composer worked with the American violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who was then only 16 years old; they worked well together and Menuhin warmly recalled his association with the composer years later, when he performed the concerto with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Menuhin later conducted an award-winning recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto with the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and much of the major orchestral music.

Elgar's recordings usually featured such orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra (which reverted in 1928 to its earlier name, New Symphony Orchestra) and, in 1933, the newly-founded London Philharmonic Orchestra. Elgar's recordings were released on 78-rpm discs by both HMV and RCA Victor. In later years, EMI reissued the recordings on LP and CD.

In his later years, Elgar befriended young conductors such as Adrian Boult and Malcolm Sargent who championed his music when it was out of fashion.

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 from inoperable cancer (discovered during an operation in September 1933) on 23 February 1934 and was buried, at St. Wulstan's Church in Little Malvern, next to his wife Alice. Within four months, two more great English composers - Gustav Holst and Frederick Delius - were also dead.


The house in Lower Broadheath where Elgar was born is now a museum devoted to his life and work.

The statue of him at the end of Worcester High Street stands facing the cathedral, only yards from where his father's shop once stood.

Another statue of the composer is at the top of Church Street in Malvern, overlooking the town and giving visitors an opportunity to stand next to the composer in the shadow of the Hills which he so often regarded.

In September 2005, a statue sculpted by Jemma Pearson was unveiled near Hereford Cathedral in honour of his many musical and other associations with that city.

From 1999 until early 2007, new Bank of England twenty pound notes featured a portrait of Elgar: from then, a new series of notes featured a portrait of Adam Smith. The change generated controversy, particularly because 2007 was the 150th anniversary of Elgar's birth.

Elgar's sketches for his third symphony were "elaborated" in the 1990s by the composer Anthony Payne, who also subsequently produced a performing version of the sketches for a sixth Pomp and Circumstance march, premiered at the Proms in August 2006. In 2007, the Elgar Society commissioned Payne to complete the orchestration of the music for Elgar’s Crown of India Suite, Op. 66.

Elgar's sketches for a piano concerto dating from 1913 were elaborated by the composer Robert Walker and first performed in August 1997 by the pianist David Owen Norris. The realisation has since been extensively revised.

Elgar's music is associated with two well-known occasions in Britain's annual calendar: the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is played at the Last Night of the Proms, while at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in London, 'Nimrod' from his Enigma Variations is performed by massed bands.

The hit track Clubbed To Death by Rob Dougan, featured on the soundtrack to the 1999 movie The Matrix, is partially based on the Enigma Variations.

Venetian Snares used samples from Elgar's Cello Concerto In E Minor, Op. 85 on the track Szamár Madár on his album Rossz Csillag Alatt Született.

Many streets in England are named after Elgar: for example, there are eleven Elgar Avenues, including one in Malvern, Worcestershire, and another close to the house where Elgar lived, "Plas Gwyn" in Hereford. A street in North Springfield, Virginia, USA is also named after him. A major road in Box Hill, Melbourne, Australia is named after him.

Extra-musical interests

Despite having lived in Worcester, Elgar was an ardent Wolverhampton Wanderers fan and may have travelled to home games on his bicycle. Elgar bought two Wolverhampton-produced Royal Sunbeam bicycles in 1903, which he named Mr Phoebus, and visited the Sunbeam Works in Upper Villiers Street for 'tuning'.

During the first rehearsal for the young Yehudi Menuhin's forthcoming recording of the Violin Concerto, the violinist had played Elgar only the first page when the composer announced that all was going to be well, and that he was going to leave Menuhin and go "off to the races" at Pitchcroft, Worcester's racecourse. Lord Menuhin would often tell press interviewers this story; he would describe it as one of his favourite memories of Elgar.

Elgar was a keen amateur chemist, practising the hobby from a laboratory erected in his back garden. The original manuscript of the prelude to The Kingdom is stained with chemicals.


  • "[Elgar's music is] wonderful in its heroic melancholy" - William Butler Yeats, on the incidental music for Grania and Diarmid.
  • "The trees are singing my music", Elgar wrote. "Or have I sung theirs?
  • "This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another. My life was as the vapour, and is not; but this I saw, and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory". - John Ruskin, quoted by Elgar on the manuscript score of The Dream of Gerontius.
  • "Well, my boy, it's damned hard work" - Elgar to a young aspiring composer Alan Bush, on being asked what it was like to be a composer. (Recounted by Bush to members of the Workers' Music Association).

Honours and awards



  • Three symphonies
  • Sevillaña, Op. 7 (1884)
  • Froissart, concert-overture, Op. 19 (1890)
  • Serenade, for string orchestra, Op. 20 (revised version of Three Pieces for string orchestra, 1888-92)
    • 1. Allegro piacevole; 2. Larghetto; 3. Allegretto
  • Sursum corda, for strings, brass and organ, Op. 11 (1894)
  • Three Bavarian Dances, Op. 27 (1897)
    • 1. The Dance (Sonnenbichl); 2. Lullaby (In Hammersbach); 3. The Marksmen (Bei Murnau)
  • Imperial March, Op. 32 (1897)
  • Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (1899)
    • Theme, (Enigma) (andante); Var.1. C.A.E. (andante); 2. H.D.S.-P. (allegro); 3. R.B.T. (allegretto); 4. W.M.B. (allegro di molto); 5. R.P.A. (moderato); 6. Ysobel (andantino); 7. Troyte (presto); 8. W.N. (allegretto); 9. Nimrod (adagio); 10. Intermezzo, Dorabella (allegretto); 11. G.R.S. (allegro di molto); 12. B.G.N. (andante); 13. Romanza, *** (moderato); Finale, E.D.U. (allegro)
  • Chanson de Nuit for small orchestra, Op. 15 No. 1 (1899) (arrangement of the salon piece for violin and piano)
  • Chanson de Matin for small orchestra, Op. 15 No. 2 (1899) (arrangement of the salon piece for violin and piano)
  • Three Characteristic Pieces, Op. 10 (1899)
    • 1. Mazurka; 2. Sérénade Mauresque; 3. Contrasts: The Gavotte A.D. 1700 and 1900
  • Sérénade Lyrique (1900)
  • Cockaigne (In London Town), Concert-overture, Op. 40 (1900-01)
  • Pomp and Circumstance, five marches, all Op. 39 (1901-1930)
    • March No. 1 in D (1901) (The trio contains the tune known as Land of Hope and Glory)
    • March No. 2 in A minor (1901)
    • March No. 3 in C minor (1904)
    • March No. 4 in G (1907) (In 1940, set to words by A. P. Herbert as Song of Liberty)
    • March No. 5 in C (1930)
    • also March No. 6 (sketches, elaborated by Anthony Payne 2005-06)
  • Dream Children (Enfants d'un Rêve), two pieces for small orchestra, Op. 43 (1902)
    • 1. Andante; 2. Allegretto
  • In the South (Alassio), Concert-overture, Op.50 (1903-04)
  • Introduction and Allegro for strings (string quartet and orchestra), Op. 47 (1904-05)
  • The Wand of Youth, Suite No. 1, Op. 1a (1867-71, rev. 1907)
    • 1. Overture; 2. Serenade; 3. Minuet; 4. Sun Dance; 5. Fairy Pipers; 6. Slumber Scene; 7. Fairies and Giants
  • The Wand of Youth, Suite No. 2, Op. 1b (1867-71, rev. 1908)
    • 1. March; 2. The Little Bells; 3. Moths and Butterflies; 4. Fountain Dance; 5. The Tame Bear. 6. The Wild Bears
  • Elegy, for string orchestra, Op. 58 (1909)
  • Coronation March, Op. 65 (1911)
  • The Crown of India, suite for orchestra, Op. 66 (1911-12)
  • Carissima for orchestra (1913)
  • Falstaff, symphonic study, Op. 68 (1913)
  • Sospiri for string orchestra, harp and organ (or harmonium), Op. 70 (1914)
  • Polonia, symphonic prelude, Op. 76 (1915)
  • Empire March for orchestra (1924)
  • Suite from Arthur for chamber orchestra (from the incidental music to Laurence Binyon's Arthur, 1924)
  • Civic Fanfare for orchestra excluding violins (1927)
  • May-Song for small orchestra (orchestration of the original work for piano) (1928)
  • Minuet from Beau Brummel (1928-29)
  • Nursery Suite for orchestra (1931) "Dedicated by permission to their Royal Highnesses, the Duchess of York and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose"
    • 1. Aubade (Awake); 2. The Serious Doll; 3. Busy-ness; 4. The Sad Doll; 5. The Wagon (Passes); 6. The Merry Doll; 7. Dreaming - Envoy (coda)
  • Severn Suite, for orchestra, Op. 87 (1932) (originally composed for Brass Band in 1930)
    • 1. Introduction (Worcester Castle); 2. Toccata (Tournament); 3, Fugue (The Cathedral); 4. Minuet (Commandery); 5. Coda
  • Mina for small orchestra (1933)



Vocal/choral orchestral

  • The Black Knight, Symphony/Cantata for chorus and orchestra, Op. 25 (1889-92)
  • The Light of Life (Lux Christi), oratorio for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 29 (1896)
  • Scenes From The Saga Of King Olaf, cantata for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 30 (1896)
  • The Banner of St. George, ballad for chorus and orchestra, Op. 33 (1897)
  • Caractacus, cantata for soprano, tenor, baritone and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 35 (1897-98)
  • Sea Pictures, song cycle for contralto or mezzo-soprano and orchestra, Op.37 (1897-99)
  • The Dream of Gerontius, oratorio for mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 38 (1899-1900)
  • Coronation Ode for soprano, contralto, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 44 (1902)
    • I - Crown the King, for soloists and chorus
    • II - (a) The Queen, for chorus; (b) Daughter of ancient Kings, for chorus
    • III - Britain, ask of thyself, for bass solo and men's chorus
    • IV - (a) Hark upon the hallowed air, for soprano and tenor soloists; (b) Only let the heart be pure, for soprano, contralto, tenor and bass soloists
    • V - Peace, gentle peace, for soprano, contralto, tenor and bass soloists and chorus unaccompanied
    • VI - Finale Land of hope and glory, for contralto solo, with chorus
  • The Apostles, oratorio for soprano, contralto, tenor and three bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 49 (1902-03)
  • The Kingdom, oratorio for soprano, contralto, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 51 (1901-06)
  • O Hearken Thou, offertory for chorus and orchestra (Intende vocis orationis meae), Op. 64 (1911). For the Coronation of King George V
  • The Music Makers, ode for contralto or mezzo-soprano soloist, chorus and orchestra, Op. 69 (1912)
  • Carillon, recitation with orchestra, Op. 75 (1914)
  • The Spirit of England, for soprano and contralto or tenor soloists, chorus and orchestra, Op. 80 (1915-17)
    • 1. The Fourth of August (1917)
    • 2. To Women (1915)
    • 3. For the Fallen (1915)
  • Le drapeau belge (The Belgian Flag), recitation with orchestra, Op. 79 (1917)
  • The Smoking Cantata, for baritone soloist and orchestra. Written in 1919, this piece was probably never intended to be performed and was given the absurd opus number of 1001. Its duration is less than a minute.
  • Queen Alexandra's Memorial Ode (So many true Princesses who have gone), for choir (SATB) and orchestra (1932)


with piano accompaniment, unless otherwise noted


  • O Happy Eyes, part-song SATB unacc., words by C. Alice Elgar,, Op.18 No.1 (1890)
  • Love, part-song SATB unacc., words by Arthur Macquarie, dedicated to C. Alice Elgar, Op.18 No.2 (1890)
  • My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, part-song SATB unacc., words by Andrew Lang, dedicated to Rev. J. Hampton (1890)
  • Spanish Serenade (Stars of the Summer Night), part-song SATB acc. orchestra, words by H. W. Longfellow, Op.23 (1892) (also acc. 2 violins and piano)
  • The Snow, part-song SSA acc. 2 violins and piano, words by C. Alice Elgar, dedicated to Mrs. E. B. Fitton, Op.26 No.1 (1894) (also with orchestral accompaniment, 1903, and various other combinations of voices SATB etc.)
  • Fly, Singing Bird, part-song SSA acc. 2 violins and piano, words by C. Alice Elgar, dedicated to Mrs. E. B. Fitton, Op.26 No.2 (1894) (also with orchestral accompaniment, 1903)
  • From the Bavarian Highlands, choral songs SATB and orchestra, words by C. Alice Elgar, Op. 27 (1895-96)
    • 1. The Dance (Sonnenbichl); 2. False Love (Wamberg); 3. Lullaby (In Hammersbach); 4. Aspiration (Bei Sankt Anton); 5. On the Alm (Hoch Alp); 6. The Marksmen (Bei Murnau)
  • Te Deum and Benedictus, for chorus and organ, Op.34 (1897)
  • Grete Malverne on a Rocke, Christmas carol SATB unacc. (1897)
  • To Her Beneath Whose Steadfast Star, part-song SATB unacc., words by H. W. Longfellow, dedicated to Queen Victoria (1899)
  • Five Partsongs from the Greek Anthology, part-songs TTBB, Op.45 (1902)
    • 1. Yea, cast me from height of the mountains, tr. Alma Strettell; 2. Whether I find thee, tr. Andrew Lang; 3. After many a dusty mile, tr. Edmund Gosse; 4. It's oh! to be a wild wind, , tr. W. M. Hardinge; 5. Feasting I watch, tr. Richard Garnett
  • Weary Wind of the West, part-song SATB unacc., words by T. E. Brown, composed for Morecambe Festival (1903)
  • Evening Scene, part-song SATB unacc., words by Coventry Patmore, In Memoriam R. G. H. Howson (1905)
  • How calmly the evening, part-song SATB unacc., words by T. Lynch (1907)
  • There is sweet Music, part-song SSAATTBB unacc., words by Tennyson, dedicated to Canon Gorton, Op.53 No.1 (1907)
  • Deep in my Soul, part-song SATB unacc., words by Byron, dedicated to Julia H. Worthington, Op.53 No.2 (1907)
  • O Wild West Wind, part-song SATB unacc., words by Shelley, dedicated to W. G. McNaught, Op.53 No.3 (1907)
  • Owls (An Epitaph), part-song SATB unacc., words by 'Pietro d'Alba', Op.53 No.4 (1907)
  • The Reveille, part-song TTBB unacc., words by Bret Harte, dedicated to Henry C. Embleton (1907)
  • Marching Song, part-song SATB, words by Capt. W. de Courcy Stretton (1908). Republished in 1914 as Follow the Colours
  • Angelus (Tuscany), part-song SATB unacc., words from the Tuscan dialect, dedicated to Mrs. Charles Stuart-Wortley, Op.56 (1909)
  • Go, Song of Mine, part-song SATB unacc., words by Cavalcanti, tr. D. G. Rossetti, dedicated to Alfred H. Littleton, Op.57 (1909)
  • Lo! Christ the Lord is Born, Christmas carol SATB unacc., words by Shapcott Wensley (1909)
  • The Birthright, part-song SATB unacc., words by G. A. Stocks (1914)
  • The Shower, part-song SATB unacc., words by Henry Vaughan, dedicated to Frances Smart, Op.71 No.1 (1914)
  • The Fountain, part-song SATB unacc., words by Henry Vaughan, dedicated to W. Mann Dyson, Op.71 No.2 (1914)
  • Death on the Hills, choral-song SATB unacc., words from the Russian of Maikov, tr. Rosa Newmarch, dedicated to Percy C. Hull, Op.72 (1914)
  • Love's Tempest, part-song SATB unacc., words from the Russian of Maikov, tr. Rosa Newmarch, dedicated to C. Sanford Terry, Op.73 No.1 (1914)
  • Serenade, part-song SATB unacc., words from the Russian of Maikov, tr. Rosa Newmarch, dedicated to Percy C. Hull, Op.73 No.2 (1914)
  • The Merry-go-round, unison song acc. piano, words by Florence C. Fox (1914) (Published in the USA.)
  • The Brook, 2-part song acc. piano, words by Ellen Soule (1915) (Published in the USA.)
  • The Windlass Song, part-song SATB unacc., words by William Allingham (1915) (Published in the USA.)
  • The Wanderer, part-song TTBB unacc., words Anon. adapted from Wit and Drollery, 1661 (1923)
  • Zut, zut, zut, part-song TTBB unacc., words by Richard Marden (1923)
  • A Song of Union, part-song SATB, words by Alfred Noyes (1924) (one of the Pageant of Empire songs)
  • The Herald, part-song SATB unacc., words by Alexander Smith (1925)
  • The Prince of Sleep, part-song SATB unacc., words by Walter de la Mare (1925)
  • I sing the Birth, Christmas carol SATB unacc., words by Ben Jonson, dedicated to Rev. Harcourt B. S. Fowler (1928)
  • Good Morrow ('A simple carol for His Majesty's happy recovery'), SATB unacc. or acc. piano, words by George Gascoigne, dedicated to King George V (1929)
  • The Rapid Stream, unison song, words by Charles Mackay (1931)
  • When Swallows Fly, unison song, words by Charles Mackay (1931)
  • The Woodland Stream, unison song, words by Charles Mackay (1933)


  • Harmony Music, for wind quintet (1878-1879) (The instrumentation is two flutes, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon or cello)
    • Vol. 1: Six Promenades (1878) - 1. Moderato e molto maestoso; 2. Moderato "Madame Taussaud's"; 3. Presto; 4. Andante "Somniferous"; 5. Allegro molto; 6. Allegro Maestoso "Hell and Tommy"
    • Vol. 2: Harmony Music 1 & 2 (1878) - 1. Allegro Molto; 2. Allegro non tanto
    • Vol. 3: Harmony Music 3 & 4 (1879) - 3. Fragment (Allegro); 4. Allegro molto "The Farm Yard"
    • Vol. 4: Harmony Music 5 (1879) - 1. Allegro moderato "The Mission"; 2. Menuetto and Trio; 3. Andante "Noah's Ark"; 4. Finale (Allegro)
    • Vol. 5: Five Intermezzos (1879) - 1. Allegro moderato "The Farmyard"; 2. Adagio; 3. Allegretto "Nancy"; 4. Andante con moto; 5. Allegretto
    • Vol. 6: Four Dances (1879) - 1. Menuetto; 2. Gavotte "The Alphonsa"; 3. Sarabande; 4. Gigue
    • Vol. 7: (1878) - 1. Adagio Cantabile "Mrs Winslow's soothing syrup" 2. Andante Con Variazione "Evesham Andante"
  • Powick Asylum Music, for the asylum band (1879-1884) (The instrumentation is generally: piccolo, flute, clarinet, 2 cornets, euphonium, 1st & 2nd violins, cello, double bass and piano - variations to this are shown)
    • La Brunette: 5 Quadrilles (1879)
    • Die Junge Kokette: 5 Quadrilles (or Caledonians) (1879) (no euphonium)
    • L'Assomoir: 5 Quadrilles (1879) (The 5th quadrille was later used as the "Wild Bears" in the second "Wand of Youth" Suite). (no piccolo)
    • The Valentine: Set of Lancers (1880)
    • Maud: Polka (1880)
    • Paris: 5 Quadrilles (1880)
    • Nelly: Polka (1881) (viola added)
    • La Blonde: Polka (1882) (no flute; trombone replaces euphonium)
    • Helcia: Polka (1883) (no flute; viola added)
    • Blumine: Polka (1884) (no piccolo; no euphonium)
  • Duett for trombone and double bass (1887)
  • String Quartet in E minor, Op. 83 (1918). Dedicated to the Brodsky Quartet
  • Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84 (1918-19). Dedicated to Ernest Newman


  • Romance, for violin and piano, Op. 1 (1878) Dedicated to Oswin Grainger
  • Idylle (Esquisse Facile), for violin and piano, Op. 4 No. 1 (1883) Dedicated to E. E., Inverness
  • Pastourelle, for violin and piano, Op. 4 No. 2 (1883) Dedicated to Miss Hilda Fitton, Malvern
  • Virelai, for violin and piano, Op. 4 No. 3 (1883) Dedicated to Frank Webb
  • Gavotte, for violin and piano (1885) Dedicated to Dr. C. W. Buck
  • Allegretto on G.E.D.G.E., for violin and piano (1888). Dedicated to The Misses Gedge, Malvern
  • Salut d'Amour (Liebesgruss), for violin and piano, Op.12 (1888) Dedication "à Carice"
  • Mot d'Amour, for violin and piano, Op. 13 No. 1 (1889)
  • Bizarrerie, for violin and piano, Op. 13 No. 2 (1890)
  • La Capricieuse, for violin and piano, Op. 17 (1891) Dedicated to Fred Ward
  • Very Melodious Exercises in the First Position, for violin and piano, Op. 22 (1892). Dedicated to May Grafton, Elgar's niece.
  • Etudes Caractéristiques, for solo violin, Op. 24 (1892)
  • Offertoire (Andante Religioso), for violin and piano (1903) Dedicated to Serge Derval, Antwerp
  • Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82 (1918) Dedicated to Marie Joshua
  • Soliloquy for solo oboe (1930)


  • Griffinesque, for piano (1884)
  • Presto, for piano (1889)
  • May-Song, for piano (1901)
  • Concert Allegro, for piano (1901)
  • Skizze, for piano (1903)
  • In Smyrna, for piano (1905)
  • Sonatina, for piano (pub. 1932)
  • Adieu, for piano (pub. 1932)
  • Serenade, for piano (pub. 1932)
  • Organ Sonata in G Major, Op. 28
  • Memorial Chimes for a Carillon (1923) Composed for the opening of the Loughborough War Memorial Carillon

Brass band

  • Severn Suite, Op. 87 (1930) (transcribed for orchestra in 1932)
    • 1. Introduction (Worcester Castle); 2. Toccata (Tournament); 3, Fugue (The Cathedral); 4. Minuet (Commandery); 5. Coda

Transcriptions and arrangements

  • J. S. Bach, Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, transcription for orchestra, Op.86 (1921-1922)
  • G. F. Handel, Overture in D minor (Chandos Anthem "In the Lord put I my Trust", HWV247), transcription for orchestra (1923)
  • F. Chopin, Funeral March from the Piano Sonata No.2 in B-flat minor, transcription for orchestra (1933)

See also


  • Adams, Byron (ed.) (2007). Edward Elgar and His World. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
  • Buckley, R. J. (1905). Sir Edward Elgar. London: John Lane The Bodley Head.
  • Burley, Rosa; and Frank C. Carruthers (1972). Edward Elgar: the record of a friendship. London: Barrie & Jenkins Ltd..
  • Elgar, Edward (1949). My Friends Pictured Within. London: Novello.
  • Grimley, Daniel and Julian Rushton (eds.) (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Elgar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Harper-Scott, J. P. E. (2006). Edward Elgar, Modernist. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Harper-Scott, J. P. E. (2007). Elgar: an Extraordinary Life. London: Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
  • Harper-Scott, J. P. E. and Rushton, Julian (eds.) (2007). Elgar Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kennedy, Michael (1987). Portrait of Elgar. Third edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Maine, Basil (1933). Edward Elgar: His Life and Works, vol. 1: Life. London: G. Bell & Sons Ltd..
  • Maine, Basil (1933). Edward Elgar: His Life and Works, vol. 2: Works. London: G. Bell & Sons Ltd..
  • McVeagh, Diana M. (1955). Edward Elgar: His Life and Music. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd..
  • McVeagh, Diana M. (2007). Elgar the Music Maker. London: Boydell Press.
  • Moore, Jerrold N. (1972). Elgar: A Life in Photographs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Moore, Jerrold N. (1984). Edward Elgar: a creative life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Moore, Jerrold N. (2004). Elgar: Child of Dreams. London: Faber and Faber.
  • Mundy, Simon (1980). Elgar: His life and times. Tunbridge Wells: Modas Books.
  • Porte, J. F. (1921). Sir Edward Elgar. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Turner & Co. Ltd..
  • Powell, Mrs. Richard C.('Dorabella') (1947). Edward Elgar: Memories of a Variation. Second edition, London: Oxford University Press.
  • Reed, William H (1946). Elgar. London: Dent.
  • Reed, William H (1989). Elgar as I knew him. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ward, Yvonne M (2002). "Edward Elgar, A.C. Benson and the creation of Land of Hope and Glory". The Court Historian 7 (1):
  • Young, Percy M. (1968). 'A Future for English Music' and other lectures by Edward Elgar. London: Barrie & Jenkins.
  • Young, Percy M. (1978). Alice Elgar: enigma of a Victorian lady. London: Dobson.
  • Young, Percy M. (1973). Elgar O.M.: a study of a musician. London: Collins.
  • Young, Percy M. (1956). Letters of Edward Elgar and other writings. London: Geoffrey Bles.
  • Young, Percy M. (1965). Letters to Nimrod: Edward Elgar to August Jaeger 1897-1908. London: Dobson. Fiction
  • Hamilton-Patterson, James (1989). Gerontius. New York: Soho Press.


  • Aldous, Richard (2001). Tunes of glory: the life of Malcolm Sargent. London: Hutchinson.
  • Moore, Jerrold N. (1979). Music and Friends: Letters to Adrian Boult. Hamish Hamilton.

External links

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