Edward Elgar is a fine example of social mobility in later Victorian society. Born the son of a piano tuner who owned a music shop in June 1857, the young Elgar was largely self-taught. He benefitted from growing up in a musical household and took full advantage of the resources available in his father's shop in Broadheath, nr Worcester in the West Midlands. He struggled for many years to establish himself as a prominent composer fighting both class and religious bigotry common at the time. Born a Roman Catholic among a Protestant majority, the cards were stacked against him. During the last two decades of the eighteenth century he persevered, taught music and played the organ at a Roman Catholic church in Worcester and conducted and composed for local musical organisations. His compositional ability and style matured, and by the turn of the century it was clear his talent had surpassed that of the leading composers of his day.
In 1901 came the first two "Pomp and Circumstance" marches, the first in D major containing the famous trio section that was later to become Land of Hope and Glory. Elgar appreciated its worth; he had prophesied: "I've got a tune that will knock 'em - knock 'em flat! … a tune like that comes once in a lifetime …". In July 1904 he was knighted by the new king, Edward VII.In 1906, Elgar was busy working on his great oratorio, The Kingdom, the sequel to The Apostles of 1903. (Elgar originally intended that there should be a cycle of three oratorios but the third part of the trilogy was never completed.) You can read more about The Apostles below.
|Edward Elgar, c. 1900|
"For thirty years after his death in 1934, his music was considered to be 'out of fashion'. It was said to epitomise the Edwardian era and to have no relevance to a later age. I believe, however, that it is far too great to be tied to one short period of history and that, in any case, it is music of so personal a nature that it can be described accurately not as 'Edwardian' but only as 'Elgarian'."Michael Kennedy - 'Portrait of Elgar' (Oxford University Press -1968)
Edward Elgar (2nd June 1857 - 23rd February 1934) - "Those years had seen change accelerate as never before in human history. His response had been to seek the illumination of time remembered. For all those of his generation and the future who would feel the insight of retrospection, he had made of that evanescence his music."
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."Luke 3: 21-22