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Edward William Elgar
1857 - 1934
Great Britain, England
Picture Picture
E.W. Elgar
Sir Edward Elgar (02/06/1857 - 23/02/1934), an English composer whose works in the orchestral idiom of late 19th-century Romanticism--characterized by bold tunes, striking colour effects, and mastery of large forms--stimulated a renaissance of English music. He was born in Broadheath (Worcestershire). The son of an organist and music dealer, Elgar left school at age 15 and worked briefly in a lawyer's office. He was an excellent violinist, played the bassoon, and spent periods as a bandmaster and church organist. He had no formal training in composition. After working in London (1889-91), he went to Malvern, Worcestershire, and began to establish a reputation as a composer. He produced several large choral works, notably the oratorio Lux Christi (1896; The Light of Life), before composing in 1896 the popular Enigma Variations for orchestra. The variations are based on the countermelody to an unheard theme, which Elgar said was a well-known tune he would not identify--hence the enigma. Repeated attempts to discover it have been unsuccessful. All but the last of the 14 variations refer cryptically to friends of Elgar, the exception being his own musical self-portrait. This work, highly esteemed by Hans Richter, who conducted the first performance in 1899, brought Elgar recognition as a leading composer and became his most frequently performed composition.
The first English composer of international stature since Henry Purcell (1659-95), Elgar liberated his country's music from its insularity. He left to younger composers the rich harmonic resources of late Romanticism and stimulated the subsequent national school of English music. His own idiom was cosmopolitan, yet his interest in the oratorio is grounded in the English musical tradition. Especially in England, Elgar is esteemed both for his own music and for his role in heralding the 20th-century English musical renascence.
Lux aeterna
Composed in:1899
Musical form:fragment
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Label(s):Naxos 8.55793
Lux aeterna on music of "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations (1899).
Source:booklet of cd Naxos 8.55793