Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857, Lower Broadheath, England – 23 February 1934, Worcester, England) was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire.
Elgar’s father was a talented violinist and organist who made his living as a piano tuner and kept a small shop selling instruments and sheet music. Edward Elgar began violin and piano lessons at the age of seven. He taught himself to play the organ by reading manuals on organ playing from the library of the church where his father played. At the age of 28, he would succeed his father as church organist. As a youth, Elgar would borrow music scores from his father’s shop and take them into the quiet countryside to study. His knowledge of composition came from reading every book on music theory he could borrow.
At 22, he was appointed the conductor of the attendant’s band at the nearby Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum and arranged music for its motley collection of string and brass instrumentation. As a result, Elgar learned the capabilities and tonal range of these instruments. He played in a number of local orchestras, and some performed his early compositions.
From the death of Handel in 1759, England hadn’t produced a significant composer. Queen Victoria had wanted all music to sound like Mendelssohn’s, and composers obliged. Elgar, not being trained in the conservatories, felt a strong urge to develop new tunes. His early attempts didn’t earn him much money. 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.
Elgar's most important work for band is the The Severn Suite, written for the Crystal Palace brass band championships held in September, 1930. This was subsequently published for concert band. He also composed the Imperial March, which was originally published for piano in 1897. His Pomp and Circumstance Marches have long been favorites with bands. The slow theme from the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 has seen extensive use as a graduation ceremony processional and is also known in England as Land of Hope and Glory. Other of his works that have been popular with both orchestra and bands are the Cockaigne Overture and the Enigma Variations.
Works for Winds
This composer primarily wrote orchestral music. Transcriptions of his works include:
- As Torrents in Summer (tr. Davis) (1896/1968)
- Crown of India
- Enigma Variations (tr. Slocum) (1899/)
- Enigma Variations (arr. Ray Thompson)
- Nimrod (arr. Reed)
- Pomp and Circumstance Military March No 1 (tr. Retford; ed. Reed) (1907/2000)
- Pomp and Circumstance March No 4 (arr. Retford; ed. Reed) (1907/2000)
- Pomp and Circumstance Marches (arr. Caron)
- The Severn Suite (tr. Reed) (1973)
- Sursum Corda (arr. Houseknecht) (1894/1967)
- Triumphal March (arr. Pollen)
- Variations on an Original Theme: "Enigma" (tr. Patterson) (1899/)
- Buckley, Robert J. Sir Edward Elgar Digital Text.
- Porte, John Fielder. (1921) Sir Edgar Elgar Digital Text.
- Rehrig, William H. (2005). The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music: Complete CD ROM Edition. Ithaca, NY: The Robert Hoe Foundation.
- Roy Stahle for the Foothill Symphonic Winds
- Wikipedia: Sir Edward Elgar