Sir Edward William Elgar was an outstanding English composer of orchestral and choral music. He was born in the village of Lower Broadheath, England on June 2, 1857. His father was a piano tuner and music dealer. By age eight, he was taking violin and piano lessons. He surrounded himself with the sheet music in his father’s shop and taught himself music theory. He made his first public appearance as a violin soloist at age 15 and then started his career in music, giving lessons in piano and violin and occasionally working for his father. He visited Europe in 1880-1882 and attended many musical events where there were fine orchestras. It was here he was introduced to the music of Wagner.
His first recognition as a composer came in 1890, when he produced the overture, Froissart. During the 1890’s he composed works for the choral festivals of the Midlands. His fame grew steadily and he received a knighthood in 1904. He became master of the King’s Music in 1924 and was made a baronet in 1931.
Elgar composed in the Romantic tradition with works that have become famous for their rich orchestration and beautiful melodies. Among his most popular compositions are the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, which was written for the coronation of King Edward V11, and the Enigma variations, also known as Variations on an original theme. His oratorio, Geronitius, is considered to be his masterpiece. During his lifetime, he composed two other oratorios, two symphonies, chamber music songs, a concerto for the violin and a concerto for the cello.
He passed away on February 23, 1934, in Worcester, England.