Elgar, Edward William
b Lower Broadheath nr Worcester 1857, d Worcester 1934. Born into a musical family (‘A stream of music flowed through our house’—EWE), he soon learned to play the piano, organ, cello, double bass, bassoon and trombone. Excelling at the violin, he became a violinist and violin teacher (in London, Malvern and Hereford) before gradually emerging as a composer. But at 15 he began work for a solicitor while also playing in a wind quintet and singing in the Worcester Glee Club of which he became conductor in 1879. In 1885, he succeeded his father as organist of St George’s RC Ch, Worcester. His prominence was assured by the Enigma Variations of 1899, followed a year later. by the strongly RC oratorio The Dream of Gerontius. He was Prof of Music at Birmingham 1905– 08; many hon degrees; knighthood 1904, OM 1911 etc. On the death of his wife in 1920 he almost ceased composing. He wrote symphonies, concertos, chamber music, marches, other instrumental pieces and songs, and some music specifically as hymn tunes, and is seen as a classically British composer. The Elgar Centre was established in 2000, near his cottage birthplace which has been a memorial museum since 1934. See also the 23- page article in Grove, which assesses him as (not an innovator but) ‘a great English summation of the European tradition’. Nos.506, 719.