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Sir Edward Elgar

Biography

Born: 1857   Died: 1934   Country: England   Period: Romantic
One of the pre-eminent musical figures of his time, Edward William Elgar (1857-1934) bridged the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as the finest English composer since the days of Handel and Purcell. Elgar's father owned a music shop and was a church organist who taught his son piano, organ, and violin; apart from this instruction, Elgar was basically self-taught as a musician. At the age of 16, the composer became a freelance musician and for Read more the remainder of his life never took a permanent job. He conducted locally, performed, taught, and composed, scraping by until his marriage to Caroline Alice Roberts, a published novelist of some wealth, in 1889.
Elgar had by this time achieved only limited recognition. He and his wife moved to London, where he scarcely fared better in advancing his career. They couple eventually retreated to Worcester, Elgar suffering from bitter self-doubt and depression. Alice stood by him the entire time, her unfailing confidence restoring his spirits. He was further buoyed by the success of his Imperial March, Op. 32, which earned him a publisher and a vital friendship with August Jaeger, his editor and confidant. In 1899, Elgar composed one of his best-known works, the "Enigma" Variations, Op. 36, which catapulted him to fame. The work is a cryptic tribute to Alice and to the many friends who stood behind the composer in the shaky early days of his career. German conductor Hans Richter proclaimed it a masterpiece, and his performances of the work in Britain and Germany established the composer's lasting success.
Elgar's most fruitful period was the first decade of the twentieth century, during which he wrote some of his noblest, most expressive music, including the Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55 (1907-1908), and the Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 (1909-1910). His best-known works from this period, however, are the first four of his Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901-1907); the first of these, subtitled "Land of Hope and Glory," became an unofficial second national anthem for the British Empire.
Elgar suffered a blow when Jaeger (the "Nimrod" of the "Enigma" Variations) died in 1909. The composer's productivity dropped, and the horrors of World War I deepened his melancholy outlook. His music became more intimate, even anguished; still, he wrote some of his best chamber music during this period, as well as the masterly Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 (1919), whose deep feeling of sadness and impending loss surely relates to the final illness of his faithful Alice, who died in 1920.
For some time after that, he wrote little of significance but made a historic foray into the recording studios when new electrical recording processes were developed; the fortunate result was a number of masterly interpretations of his own orchestral music that have survived for posterity. In the early '30s, Elgar set to work on a third symphony, left unfinished at his death in 1934. The work was brought to a generally well-received realization by Anthony Payne in the late '90s and was subsequently recorded. Read less
Browse 1-11 of 11 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Icon: The Early Years - Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 928129 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Marius Casadesus,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
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  • 2.
    Elgar Conducts Elgar: The Complete Recordings 1914-1925
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1257 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Frederick Stewart,  Harry Barratt,  Frederick Henry,  Charles Mott  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Albert Hall Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $44.49
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  • 3.
    Classical Favourites Sampler
    Label: Avid   Catalog: 577 Release Date: 05/11/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Giacomo Puccini,  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claudia Muzio,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Nils Grevillius,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Arturo Toscanini  ... 
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    Best 100 Menuhin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 98225 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Stéphane Grappelli,  Vincent Youmans,  George Gershwin,  Jacob Gade  ... 
    Performer:  Stéphane Grappelli,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jan Blok,  John Etheridge  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Harris,  Andrzej Panufnik,  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Menuhin Festival Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Great Violin Concertos / Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 64198 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Edouard Lalo  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Cocker,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Christian Ferras,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Alberto Lysy,  Jerzy Maksymiuk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Efrem Kurtz  ... 
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  • 6.
    Yehudi Menuhin - The Great EMI Recordings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64131 Release Date: 04/21/2009   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Lili Boulanger,  Ernest Bloch,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Ferguson Webster,  Derek Simpson,  Robert Masters  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  John Pritchard,  George Enescu,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
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    On sale! $102.98
    CD: $78.49
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  • 7.
    Composers In Person
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 17575 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ernö von Dohnányi,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian  ... 
    Performer:  Béla Bartók,  Vilma Medgyaszay,  Ferenc Szekeres,  Zoltán Székely  ... 
    Conductor:  Lawrence Collingwood,  Paul Hindemith,  Aram Khachaturian,  Arthur Honegger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Percurama Percussion Ensemble
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  • 8.
    Elgar - The Collector's Edition [30-Disc Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 03603 Release Date: 11/06/2007   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Frédéric Chopin
    Performer:  Hugh Bean,  David Parkhouse,  John Ogdon,  Herbert Sumsion  ... 
    Conductor:  Vernon Handley,  Sir Charles Groves,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Allegri String Quartet  ... 
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  • 9.
    Elgar Conducts Elgar
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 9776 Release Date: 10/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $12.99
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  • 10.
    Elgar: Symphonies No 1 & 2, Etc / London Po, Et Al
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 16 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Alexander Cameron,  John Chambers,  Rodney Friend  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $58.99
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  • 11.
    Elgar: Violin Concerto, Enigma Variations / Elgar, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 66994 Release Date: 05/04/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin
    Conductor:  Sir Edward Elgar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Albert Hall Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $11.97
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