Elegy for string orchestra Op. 58

Premiered:
13
th July 1909 in London, Mansion House. 
Worshipful Company of Musicians, Memorial Concert 

Dedicated to:
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:

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