Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
June 2
Did You Guess?
Can You Guess?
Elgar composed a piece of music that most high school students hope to hear, and you may have heard it just recently! Can You Guess what piece of music that might be?

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Edward Elgar was born at Lower Broadheath, on June 2, June 1857.  His father had a music shop and tuned pianos.  Elgar, therefore, had the advantage of growing up in a thoroughly practical musical atmosphere. He studied the music available in his father's shop and taught himself to play a wide variety of instruments.
1846 - Debut of French pianist/ composer Camille Saint Saens

1896 - First performance of Saint Saens's Piano Concerto No. 5, commemorating the 50th anniversary of his debut.

1896 - Guglielmo Marconi was awarded a patent for the radio.

1937 - French composer Louis Vierne died at Notre Dame Cathedral while playing organ during his 1750th recital threre.  Search for his music at Amazon here.

1944 - Marvin Hamlisch, US popular music composer, was born.

1975 - John Denver's Thank God I'm a Country Boy went to #1 on popular music charts.  He tells us
When the work’s all done and the sun’s settlin’ low
I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow
The kids are asleep so I keep it kinda low
Thank God I’m a country boy

I’d play Sally Goodin all day if I could
But the lord and my wife wouldn’t take it very good
So I fiddle when I could, work when I should
Thank God I’m a country boy

1987 - Andres Segovia, Spanish guitarist, died.

- Bandleader Sammie Kaye died.
From age 16 Egar worked as a violinist, organist, bassoonist, conductor and teacher. Many of his early works were written for St. George's Roman Catholic Church, where he succeeded his father as organist in 1885. He composed wind quintets for a local group in which he was bassoonist, also polkas and quadrilles for the band at Powick Lunatic Asylum.

Throughout the 1880s 90s his experience grew and his style matured as he conducted and composed for local musical organisations. He also taught the violin.

In 1889 he married one of his pupils, Caroline Alice Roberts, who had a dogged faith in his emerging genius.  She played a vital part in the development of Elgar's career.

His first big success came with the Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma) in 1899. Then came one of Elgar's greatest religious compositions - The Dream of Gerontius.  Richard Strauss praised Elgar as the first English progressive musician.

In 1901 Elgar produced his first two Pomp and Circumstance Marches.  By this time, Elgar's works were being performed both in Europe and in the USA In 1905, came the Introduction and Allegro for Strings.

Symphony No. 1 in A flat was first performed in December, 1908. The work was received with tremendous enthusiasm and there were 100 performances of it in Europe, America, Australia and Russia in just over a year.

The Violin Concerto in B minor followed in 1910. Dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, who gave the first performance, its last movement has a unique feature - an accompanied cadenza.  The strings are instructed that the pizzicato tremolando should be thrummed with the soft part of three fingers while the violin muses over ideas recalled from the earlier movements.

The First World War depressed Elgar deeply, and he did not produce a great deal of music  until 1918 and 1919 that his final great period produced the three chamber works - the Violin Sonata and the String Quartet, both in E minor, the Piano Quintet in A minor and theCello Concerto in E minor, his last great masterpiece. Audiences were quick to note the change - no longer the pomp and swagger of earlier days.

In 1920, Lady Elgar died and with her died much of Elgar's inspiration and will to compose. She had organised his household and ministered to his comforts. For a long time she saved him hours of drudgery, for instance by ruling bar lines on score paper. She walked miles in all weathers to post precious parcels of manuscript and proofs. In the early days of their marriage she had collaborated with him to produce such works as Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands (1896) - Elgar's settings of his wife's poems inspired by holidays spent in Germany. At times when success seemed forever to be eluding him, she never lost faith. In short, she had been the driving force behind his genius encouraging him and proclaiming his talents at every opportunity.

In 1928 he was honored as a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order (K.C.V.O). In 1933 he conducted Yehudi Menuhin in his violin concerto. 

That year he was found to be suffering from a malignant tumour which pressed on the sciatic nerve. He died February 23, 1934.
Sir Edward Elgar
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 is played at many graduations. Click here to hear a midi version of the part of the work most folks know.
Having written it, Elgar proclaimed,  "I've got a tune that will knock 'em - knock 'em flat! … a tune like that comes once in a lifetime …"
Violinist Hilary Hahn plays Elgar
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Look inside this title
Edward Elgar: Salut D'Amour - sheet music at
Edward Elgar: Salut D'Amour Composed by Edward Elgar (1857-1934), edited by Donald Burrows. Opus 12. For violin and piano accompaniment. Urtext. Format: set of performance parts (includes separate pull-out violin part). With solo part, piano accompaniment and performance notes. Romantic Period. E Major. 14 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by C.F. Peters. (PE.P07429)
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