Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod" was composed by Edward Elgar. He is known for such works as the Enigma Variations (of which "Nimrod" is one of the fourteen variations), the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, The Dream of Gerontius, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed oratorios, chamber music and songs. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924.

This clip is a performance of Nimrod by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Maestro Daniel Barenboim opening the 1997 season at Carnegie Hall. This performance was dedicated to Sir Georg Solti who was the previous music director of the CSO for many years.

Background to Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod"
Augustus J. Jaeger was employed as music editor by the London publisher Novello & Co. For a long time he was a close friend of Elgar, giving him useful advice, but also severe criticism, something Elgar greatly appreciated. Remarkably Elgar later related on several occasions how Jaeger had encouraged him as an artist and had stimulated him to continue composing despite setbacks. The name of the variation punningly refers to Nimrod, an Old Testament patriarch described as "a mighty hunter before the Lord" - the name Jäger being German for hunter.

In 1904 Elgar told Dora Penny (“Dorabella”) that this variation is not really a portrait, but “the story of something that happened”.[3] Once, when Elgar had been very depressed and was about to give it all up and write no more music, Jaeger had visited him and encouraged him to continue composing. He pointed at Ludwig van Beethoven, who had a lot of worries, but wrote more and more beautiful music. “And-that-is-what-you-must-do”, Jaeger said and he sang the theme of the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 ' Pathétique '. Elgar disclosed to Dora that the opening bars of Nimrod were made to suggest that theme. “Can’t you hear it at the beginning? Only a hint, not a quotation”.

This variation has become popular in its own right and is sometimes used at funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions. It is always played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday in November).

No comments: