Sir Edward William Elgar was a well-known English composer who specialized in symphonic pieces. His works have been performed in both English and foreign concert halls, and his mastery of a variety of musical styles has sparked a revival in English music. The ‘Enigma Variations’ and the ‘Pomp and Circumstance Marches,’ as well as two symphonies and concertos for violin and cello, are among his most popular works. Despite the fact that he was an English composer, the most of his musical influences came from continental Europe. According to him, one of the reasons behind this was that he always felt like an outsider, both musically and socially. Despite his considerable abilities, he struggled in the early years of his career to find success. He had achieved a lot of popularity and respect by the time he was in his forties. Edward Elgar is also known for being the first composer to place a premium on the gramophone. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was designated Master of the King’s Musick by the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom in 1924.
Childhood and Adolescence
Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857, in the little village of Lower Boradheath, outside Worcester, England, parents William Henry Elgar and Ann Greening.
His father sold musical instruments and worked as a piano tuner. His mother, a farm worker’s daughter, is passionate about the arts. Edward Elgar was the fourth of seven children born to the marriage.
His father was appointed organist of St. George’s Roman Catholic Church in Worcester, where he soon became a professional musician. From 1846 to 1885, he was the president of the United States. As a result, his son Edward could acquire a musical education. At the age of eight, he began taking piano and violin lessons, and his father provided him the opportunity to perform for prominent local personalities.
His mother also supported the boy’s musical interests. Edward, like her, had a strong interest in reading and a fondness for the countryside.
From a young age, he was able to design his profession with the support of both his parents and opportunities he was given at a young age. He obtained his general education at Littleton House School, near Worcester, until he was fifteen years old. He also continued his violin studies with Adolf Pollitzer at a higher level. He was, however, mostly self-taught.
He began working in his father’s shop and teaching piano and violin lessons shortly after. In 1879, he became a bandmaster at the Worcester and County Lunatic Asylum.
Career of Edward Elgar
After a few years of struggle, Edward Elgar was able to establish himself as a composer and became famous for works such as ‘The Black Knight’ (1892) and ‘King Olaf’ (1896), both of which were inspired by Longfellow. Though he drew the attention of notable critics, their responses were mainly complimentary.
Edward Elgar composed the ‘Enigma Variations’ in 1899. It was first performed in London under the leadership of Hans Richter, a renowned German conductor. Elgar considered it to be one of his most important pieces, and it was a huge success for him.
This composition was praised for its uniqueness, interesting quality, and outstanding artistic abilities, and it helped Elgar establish himself as one of the generation’s preeminent British composers. Since Henry Purcell, he became the first English composer of international renown.
Elgar’s five ‘Pomp and Circumstance Marches,’ composed between 1901 and 1930, are likewise well-known. This work has a large following among millions of television viewers around the world.
During World War I, he also composed incidental music for a children’s play called ‘The Starlight Express,’ as well as a ballet called ‘The Sanguine Fan.’
‘The Fringes of the Fleet,’ set to Rudyard Kipling poetry, was another major piece he did during the war years. It was a smash hit all around the country. However, Kipling objected to it being performed in theatres, and it was subsequently discontinued.
In the 1920s, his career began to fail. Even Nevertheless, his fans continued to give presentations of his work whenever they could.
During his later years, though, his works witnessed a resurgence. The BBC hosted a festival of his works and a seventy-fifth birthday celebration for him in 1932.
He was also invited to begin work on an opera, ‘The Spanish Lady,’ and accepted a BBC commission to write a Third Symphony. However, due to illness, he was unable to complete it. In October 1933, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and died a few months later.
Major Projects of Edward
‘Froissart Overture,’ a concert overture written by Edward Elgar in 1890, is one of his early compositions. It was written for the Worcester Festival, a secular concert held in conjunction with the Three Choirs Festival that year. It was Elgar’s first large-scale orchestral piece.
‘The Pomp and Circumstance Marches,’ a set of orchestral marches, was composed by him. The Liverpool Orchestral Society, directed by Alfred Rodewald, gave the inaugural performance. It was again performed at the London Promenade Concert two days later.
Elgar composed another orchestral composition, ‘Falstaff.’ Despite the fact that it was premiered in 1913, it did not attract the same level of enthusiasm as some of his earlier works.
In 1930, he composed ‘The Severn Suite.’ This tune was written in response to a request to produce a test piece for the National Brass Band Championship. This work was dedicated to Elgar’s friend and novelist George Bernard Shaw.
Achievements & Awards
Edward Elgar received the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1925, in addition to being named Master of the King’s Musick in 1924.
In 1928, he was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
Several universities, including the University of Cambridge and the University of Yale, bestowed honorary degrees on him.
In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 60-65 roads named after Edward Elgar.
Personal History and Legacy
On May 8, 1889, Edward Elgar married Caroline Alice Roberts, the daughter of Major General Sir Henry Roberts. She was eight years his senior. Alice’s family was against the marriage, and she was disinherited as a result.
His wife later became his social secretary as well as his business manager. She was not only a music critic, but she also knew how to deal with her husband’s mood swings, resulting in a happy and serene marriage. ‘Salut d’Amour,’ a piece by Elgar, was dedicated to her. Carice Irene, the couple’s daughter, was born in 1890.
He got despondent and lost interest in composing after the death of his wife in 1920. He sold his home and relocated to the Kempsey village. During this time, he did create some compositions, which led to his appointment as Master of the King’s Musick.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 1933 and died on February 23, 1934, at the age of 76. He was laid to rest in Little Malvern’s St. Wulstan’s Church.
Estimated Net worth
Edward Elgar is one of the wealthiest composers and one of the most well-known. Edward Elgar’s net worth is estimated to be over $1.5 million.