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Edward Elgar

Like Henry Purcell for the English music of the baroque era and Benjamin Britten for the English music of the modern age, Edward Elgar (1857 ? 1934) is regarded as the representative composer for English music in the late romantic period. This rank is certainly largely attributable to his patriotic works, of which the orchestral marches, Opus 39, entitled "Pomp and Circumstance", advanced to the rank of a kind of secret national anthem. Speaking of these marches, he confessed: "I have some of the instincts of the soldier in me, and so I wrote marches, but I am far from being ashamed of them. On the contrary, I´m rather proud of them." In this sense, no other composer´s works embodied and represented the spirit of life in the twilight of the Victorian Age better than Edward Elgar. For all of this, he came from anything but an upper middle class background, but rather grew up in modest circumstances as the son of a music shop owner and organist. In a manner of speaking, music was placed in his cradle by his origins. Self-educated, he taught himself several instruments and became his father´s successor as organist in the Catholic parish of Worcester in 1885. His big breakthrough as a composer came in 1899 with his "Enigma Variations". After that he was soon presented with a number of decorations. Outside Great Britain, Elgar´s works generally have had a hard time being performed to this day and are often pooh-poohed as overly imbued with Victorian pompousness and bombast. But in a time when the European unification process is moving along by leaps and bounds, it´s time we all sharpened our perceptibility of different European cultures. And this is where Elgar´s works make an indispensable contribution.