Elgar wrote this orchestral piece in 1898-99 with its premiere in London, June 1899, establishing the composer’s international reputation. The theme is followed by 14 variations which Elgar “dedicated to my friends pictured within”.
Whilst composing the work Edward Elgar wrote to his close friend, Augustus Jaeger, a music publisher with Novello, who had encouraged the composer during some of his periods of depression, “I’ve written the variations each one to represent the mood of the ‘party’ – I’ve liked to imagine the ‘party’ writing the var. him (or her) self and have written what I think they would have written – if they were assess enough to compose – it’s a quaint idea and the result is amusing to those behind the scenes and won’t affect the hearer who ‘nose nuffin’”.
Variation XI (Adagio) NIMROD is a subtle dedication to Augustus Jaeger, the surname in German meaning ‘hunter’, and in the Old Testament Nimrod appears as a patriarch ‘a mighty hunter before the Lord’. Each of the other variations are dedicated to Elgar’s friends and family. The identities of these people, written only as initials in the score, Elgar revealed during his lifetime.
Geraldine Crawshaw, 2nd Violin