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Edward Elgar
Enigma Variations
1 CD | 70min | Nr. SWR19509CD (= 93.191)
CD 1: » Edward Elgar: In the South op. 50 (Alassio, Concert Overture)
» Edward Elgar: Introduction and Allegro op. 47
» Edward Elgar: Enigma – Variations on an Original Theme op. 36 for Orchestra

While the music of Elgar has gone in and out of favor during the last century, one could never deny the enormous influence he had on shaping the English musical landscape. In fact, it would be fair to describe Elgar as the most English of composers, whose name has been given to more than sixty roads and at least three locomotives as well as serving as the subject of numerous plays and novels in his native land.

Among the most enduringly popular of all of Elgar's compositions are the Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra, Op. 36, commonly known as the "Enigma" Variations. Elgar's account of the piece's genesis was that after a tiring day of teaching in 1898, he was daydreaming at the piano.

A melody he played caught the attention of his wife Alice, who liked it and asked him to repeat it for her. So, to entertain her, he began to improvise variations on this melody, each one either a musical portrait of one of their friends, or in the musical style they might have used. The Variations were an immediate success and propelled Elgar from being a provincial music teacher and composer of slight choral works into the center of English musical life. Over the next decade the Variations were performed around the world and earned such fans as Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov and even Mahler.