Elgar and the English Tradition

By the time of his death in 1934, Sir Edward Elgar had moved to a stately manor in the Hampstead Heath neighborhood of Northern London. Just five years later, in 1939, Benjamin Zander was born in Buckinghamshire. Soon, as a young boy, he would move to the same neighborhood in which Elgar had once lived. Though commonly regarded as a quintessential English musician, Elgar drew much of his stylistic inspiration from the great European composers. Shades of the romantic pioneers—Brahms, Schubert, Liszt, and even Strauss—permeate his works. Yet while Elgar pays homage to the romantics frequently, when all is said and done every phrase that he writes is filtered through a uniquely British lense.

Throughout Benjamin Zander’s adolescence, as he studied with Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst,  the influences of Elgar—recently deceased—cast shadows of influence over all aspects of the creative process. It is in this spirit of recognition—and of deep love for his homeland – that Benjamin Zander has become a champion of Elgar’s music. He is famous for closing many of his concerts with an encore of the “Nimrod” movement from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. 

Elgar: Cello Concerto (Interpretation Class)
Daniel Hass, cello; Dina Vainshtein, piano
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Elgar: Enigma Variations / Boston Philharmonic (Recording)
Performed by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016.
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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A-Flat Major (Conversation)
From a broadcast interview with Brian Bell.
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