Sir Edward Elgar
Born in Worcester, England June 2, 1857
Died in Worcester, England February 23, 1934
Enigma Variations, The Apostles, Pomp and Circumstance marches
Sir Edward Elgar is considered one of the most famous English composers – so famous that there is even a locomotive named after him! The son of a piano tuner and music shop owner, he was one of seven children. Though he had very little formal training, he was able to make a living as a freelance musician starting when he was just 16 years old. Violin was his main instrument, but he also played organ, violin, piano, and bassoon and conducted to make a living! During this time, he was also writing compositions and eventually decided to move to London, where he would stop playing to concentrate on writing music.
At first, it was very hard for Elgar to make a living as a composer. He even had to leave London to live in a smaller town and take up some of his old teaching positions. Elgar kept trying, and it wasn’t long before his compositions started to be recognized as great works!
Unlike so many composers before him, Elgar was able to conduct most of his orchestral compositions to be recorded. We also have recordings of his voice, and even a video of him conducting!
Elgar loved golf, chemistry, and his pet dogs. He also loved riddles, and secretly named each movement of his most famous work, “Enigma” Variations, after a friend. Each movement contained a clue about the person he had in mind while he composed it.