Elgar: Edward. Sheet Music and Biography

By | March 17, 2020

Elgar Sheet Music

Photograph of Edgar Elgar sat outside dressed formally
Edward Elgar
2 June 1857-23 Feb 1934

Edward Elgar for me is probably the most famous English composer.

Why? .. well I didn’t grow up in a very musical household, however, Land of Hope and Glory, The Enigma Variations, and Pomp and Circumstance all appeared on my radar.

Maybe it’s the memories of BBC’s last night of the Proms (although we certainly weren’t avid watches of this so it was probably from the highlights on the 9 o’clock news).

Specimen twenty pound note with Sir Edward Elgar on one side

There is also the fact that Edward Elgar lived in the 20th century and he made it onto the twenty pound note until 2010. For some, there’s his memorable moustache.

Background

Edward Elgar was born in a small village just outside Worcester. His father, William was a piano tuner who set up a shop selling music scores and musical instruments.  He was also a violinist of a professional standard and held the post of organist at St. Georges Roman Catholic Church, Worcester – it was certainly the right grounding to produce such an amazing composer.

Edward was the fourth of seven children all of whom were given a musical upbringing. He played both the violin and piano.

William sometimes took his son with him to work as a piano tuner. Edward would often play the piano, exposing him to many rich influential people.

Edward and his family loved their music.  At the age of ten, he created the music for a play he’d written for the Edgar family. Such was the standard of this that it was used forty years later with only minor tweaks, entitled ‘The Wand of Youth’.

Early Life

Edward received a general education plus local music tuition. He also travelled on brief trips to London and occasionally received formal music lessons. Additionally, he would read lots of books on music theory and manuals on how to play the organ.

Elgar said, “my first music was learnt in the Cathedral … from books borrowed from the music library when I was eight, nine or ten.”

His career began in 1872, not as a musician but as a clerk in solicitors.  Realising this really wasn’t for him he left, initially giving violin and piano lessons and working in his father’s shop …. As you know things definitely progressed from here!

Elgar married Caroline Alice Roberts (known as Alice) in 1886.  He was very much in love and wrote many of his songs for her including Salut d’Amour which he composed as an Engagement present.  It is such a beautiful piece of music.

Alice was very much behind his creativity being his business manager and social secretary.  In her diary, she wrote, “The care of a genius is enough of a life work for any woman.” I’m guessing that she was a very patient lady…

After her death in 1920 Elgar’s music writing slowed down drastically until his death in 1929. On his death, he left works unfinished including a third symphony, a piano concerto, and an opera.

Interesting Facts

  • Alice and Edward only had one child who they named Carice Irene. Carice being a contraction of Caroline and Alice.
  • There are rumours that Elgar had a wandering eye and his love for going to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers play football was not entirely legitimate!
  • Each part of the Enigma Variations relates to a particular person or animal in Elgar’s life. The eleventh variation is supposedly for a friends Bulldog, Dan who fell into the River Wye.
  • Aside from his music Edward was also an amateur chemist and enjoyed tinkering in his shed.  He actually invented a device for synthesising hydrogen sulphide called ‘Elgar Sulphuretted Hydrogen Apparatus‘ which went into production for a brief time.
  • King Edward VII awarded Elgar a knighthood in 1904.
  • Composers and the word HMV don’t usually go together in the same sentence, however, Elgar was one of the first composers to act upon recorded music and regularly met with the people from HMV to make premiere recordings of his work.

Elgar Sheet Music Downloads and Further Reading

At music-scores.com we have nearly 70 arrangements of Edward Elgar sheet music in PDF format for you to download.

If you want to read more about Elgar and his life there are many resources available on the internet. We like both The Elgar Society and The Elgar Foundation.