Enigma Variations (includes Nimrod)
Elgar is the third most popular composer in the Ultimate Hall of Fame, a title he shares with Tchaikovsky as both composers have 12 entries in the chart. This is Elgar's second highest, which climbed to its best ever position of number 4 in the most recent countdown.
Each one of Elgar's 14th Enigma Variations is dedicated to 'friends pictured within'.
Nimrod, the most famous movement, was written for Elgar's close friend and mentor, the publisher August Jaeger. On closer inspection then, Nimrod reveals itself to be a typical Elgarian pun as both Jaegar and Nimrod are connected to the word 'hunter'. Jaeger is 'hunter' in German and the word 'nimrod' derives from the word 'hunter', as in, 'Nimrod the mighty hunter' from the book of Genesis.
Yet despite the mighty imagery Nimrod conjures up, this is not a jovial piece. Its sweeping elegiac lines have made it a recurring choice at funerals and other solemn occasions including at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.
Elgar said of Nimrod that the variation is not really a portrait, but 'the story of something that happened', and he suggested that the quiet opening of the piece is a nod to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8.
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