Elegy for string orchestra Op. 58
13th July 1909 in London, Mansion House. Worshipful Company of Musicians, Memorial Concert
Rev. R. H. Hadden
Late Junior Warden
The Worshipful Company of Musicians
Orchestration: 1st Violins, 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, Bass
Performance Time: 5 minutes
- It was written on commission from the Worshipful Company of Musicians to honour the memory of the Rev. Robert Hadden.
- However, the echoes of the “Nimrod” variation from The Enigma Variations have led to the belief that it was meant as a tribute to Elgar’s closest friend and advisor, Augustus Jaeger. Jaeger had passed away only one month before after a long battle with tuberculosis and Elgar was devastated.
- Jaeger was head of publishing at Novello Music when he and Elgar first met in 1897. His encouragement, advice and friendship was invaluable to the composer. Jaeger was a champion of another composer on today’s programme: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. In a letter to Elgar, he asserted that the young composer was “a genius”.
The opening section of this brief work has a deep, almost aching, dignity with an intensity that is unusual in Elgar’s writing. In the middle section he harkens back to his earlier lighter string works, perhaps recalling a happier time in his life and friendship with Jaeger. The opening is reprised but now with a calm acceptance of the finality of his friend’s passing.
Here is a recording of Sir Edward conducting the piece with the London Philharmonic Orchestra on August 29th 1933: