Edward Elgar Biography (BBC)
Edward Elgar was the greatest English composer since Purcell, and the first to win widespread international recognition. The confidently crafted surface of his music conceals a complex and sensitive personality, shaped in hidebound Victorian society by consciousness of his status as an outsider: he was the son of a music shopkeeper and piano tuner in provincial Worcester, and brought up as a Catholic. Elgar had a practical training as a performer on the violin and other instruments, and taught himself composition.
His reputation was slow to spread beyond the West Midlands, but he attained national prominence in 1899 when his ‘Enigma’ Variations were premiered in London. His next major work, the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, quickly became successful in Britain and Germany. A heady decade followed which saw the composition of two further oratorios, The Apostles and The Kingdom, and a stream of orchestral works culminating in the First Symphony and the Violin Concerto.
Elgar moved to London, and took on the conductorship of the London Symphony Orchestra for the 1911/12 season. But the Second Symphony, the choral ode The Music Makers and the symphonic study Falstaff were discouragingly received.
After the premiere of the Cello Concerto in 1919 and the death of his wife the following year, Elgar moved back to the West Midlands and went into virtual retirement. However, he was working with renewed energy on an opera and a Third Symphony when he died in 1934.
Profile © Anthony Burton
Edward Elgar Biography (Wikipedia)
Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM GCVO (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.
Although Elgar is often regarded as a typically English composer, most of his musical influences were not from England but from continental Europe. He felt himself to be an outsider, not only musically, but socially. In musical circles dominated by academics, he was a self-taught composer; in Protestant Britain, his Roman Catholicism was regarded with suspicion in some quarters; and in the class-conscious society of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he was acutely sensitive about his humble origins even after he achieved recognition. He nevertheless married the daughter of a senior British army officer. She inspired him both musically and socially, but he struggled to achieve success until his forties, when after a series of moderately successful works his Enigma Variations (1899) became immediately popular in Britain and overseas. He followed the Variations with a choral work, The Dream of Gerontius (1900), based on a Roman Catholic text that caused some disquiet in the Anglican establishment in Britain, but it became, and has remained, a core repertory work in Britain and elsewhere. His later full-length religious choral works were well received but have not entered the regular repertory.
- Watch: Sir Mark Elder's choice for River of Musichttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04d7qzq.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04d7qzq.jpg2016-10-30T12:26:00.000ZThe conductor introduces "a very noble, moving composition": Elgar's The Apostles.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04d7qzv
Watch: Sir Mark Elder's choice for River of Music
- A haunting miniature, first performed at the onset of World War Ihttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04d72yl.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p04d72yl.jpg2016-10-26T13:10:00.000ZRaphael Wallfisch and John York perform Elgar's Sospiri.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p04d72yq
A haunting miniature, first performed at the onset of World War I
- Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor (4th movement)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p041mghj.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p041mghj.jpg2016-07-16T00:40:00.000ZWith Sol Gabetta (cello) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p041mgjc
Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor (4th movement)
- How 'Cello' was filmedhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p040qnvy.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p040qnvy.jpg2016-07-07T15:09:00.000ZCellist Sol Gabetta's 300-year-old instrument was turned into a screen for a unique film.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p040qnyb
How 'Cello' was filmed
- Cellohttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03zn9n5.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03zn9n5.jpg2016-07-07T14:16:00.000ZSee the cello in a new light as Sol Gabetta performs Elgar's Cello Concerto.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p040qk5y
- Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nnw9v.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nnw9v.jpg2016-04-18T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Promshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nnxgv
Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A flat major (extract)
- Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ns9gg.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03ns9gg.jpg2016-04-13T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03ns9j0
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor (extract)
- Elgar: Enigma Variationshttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vzyqg.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01vzyqg.jpg2014-07-09T14:55:00.000ZIn this Proms Music Guide, Suzy Klein talks about Elgar's Enigma Variations.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p022hmd3
Elgar: Enigma Variations
- Theme and Variationshttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sxtxl.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01sxtxl.jpg2014-05-27T13:07:00.000ZCharles Hazlewood examines Theme and Variations in music.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zvfz4
Theme and Variations
Edward Elgar Tracks
Past BBC Events
Proms 1933: Prom 05
Proms 1931: Prom 46
Proms 1930: Prom 47
Proms 1924: Prom 58 - In the presence of Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary
Proms 1921: Prom 35
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