June 2, 1857 - Broadheath (United Kingdom) — February 23, 1934 - Worcester (United Kingdom)
Edward Elgar, the autodidact
Edward Elgar, the composer of the famous Pomp and Circumstance, was the first “progressive” British composer according to Richard Strauss who conducted his music in 1901. He made his debut under the auspices of his organist father in humble musical circumstances in the middle of the English countryside. Indeed, the young man was never to forget the beauty of English nature: his work is a testimony to this. Neither music school nor patronage guided Elgar. He simply took an active part in local musical activities and as an autodidact, always maintained a simple and sensitive character far from the pretentions of any official career.
He only began composing at the age of thirty-two and his first works were clumsy and conceived as a prolongation of Romantic music. Determined, the composer made his debut in London in 1897 with the Imperial March, which was a success. It was at the age of forty that he achieved glory. The Enigma Variations and Sea Pictures showed the greatness of his musical vision. The official commissions came in quick succession and Edward Elgar, while avoiding any vulgarity, produced popular music as well as some masterpieces like his Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 2 (1911).
Edward Elgar managed to delve into the most passionate and intimate secrets and reconcile the sensitivities of Brahms and Bruckner. The British consider Elgar to be one of the greatest composers since Henry Purcell. He paved the way for Ralph Vaughan Williams.