Salut d'Amour Op.12
Edward Elgar


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The fourth of Elgar's 12 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This has featured in 15 of the 20 charts, reaching its highest position of 163 in 2007, the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Not content with mere rings to mark their engagement in 1888, Edward Elgar and his wife-to-be Alice exchanged artistic gifts too. She had given him a poem that she had written a few years earlier, entitled The Wind at Dawn. Elgar immediately set it to music, winning himself a rather useful £5 in the process when he entered it into a composing competition. (Using a measure of average earnings, that's the equivalent today of some £2,600 — not a bad day's work for a would-be composer and his fiancée). In return, Elgar gave Alice a musical love token, entitled Liebesgruss written in Settle, in Yorkshire.

Never one to look a gift piece in the mouth, Elgar sent a few versions to Schott's publishers, who gave him just two guineas for it and promptly published it as Salut d'Amour, calling him mysteriously 'Ed. Elgar' the hope being that if he sounded less English, it would sell more. And it did. Sadly, Elgar received only his two guineas.

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (1485).