One of the pieces I played in my orchestra concert a couple of weeks ago was Elgar's Enigma Variations, which is one of the best loved pieces in the English classical repertoire. Here is the best of the best ... the ninth variation, Nimrod, played by a military band at the national commemoration of Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in London.
Edward Elgar was born near Worcester in 1857, the son of a piano tuner and musician. He had little formal musical training and was a self-taught composer. After a short spell as a clerk he became a music teacher, conductor and musician. His reputation as a composer grew slowly during the 1890s until 1899 when the Enigma Variations was first performed to great acclaim. He was knighted in 1904, produced his last great work, his cello concerto, in 1919, and died in 1934. He was one of the first composers to make gramophone recordings of his own works. The house where Elgar was born is now a museum and the statue below stands near the cathedral in Worcester.
Elgar's other best known contribution to English music is the Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, which as "Land of Hope and Glory" has become one of the unofficial national anthems of England along with Blake's "Jerusalem". Here it is played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms (a post in itself!) and sung enthusiastically by the Promenaders (the music starts two and a half minutes into the clip).
Finally, here is a short extract from Elgar's Cello Concerto, performed by Jacqueline du Pré.