Elgar wrote four Pomp and Circumstance marches between 1901 and 1907, and a fifth was published in 1930. Sketches were found for a sixth march.
Edward Elgar declared, “I know there are a lot of people who like to celebrate events with music. To these people I have given tunes”.
The title “Pomp and Circumstance” comes from Shakespeare’s Othello, when Othello declares he will no longer profess to be a soldier:
“…Farewell the neighing stead, and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner and all quality
Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war!”
During its composition, Elgar told his friend Dora Penny he had “got a damned fine popular tune… that will knock ‘em flat”. And so it has, for over 100 years. After the initial march, the trio arrives with a glorious melody, now known to us as “Land of Hope and Glory”. The words were, in fact, written by A.C. Benson, in varying forms and became part of the coronation ode dedicated to H.M. King Edward VII.
This march has become a popular fixture at the Last Night of the Proms and in Canada and the USA is known just as “The Graduation March” for those occasions.
Do you dare to sing along?
Land of Hope and Glory
Mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider,
Shall they bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet!
Geraldine Crawshaw, 2nd Violin.