Letter from Elgar to Jaeger (1898)

Description

In this letter, dated 24 October 1898, Elgar mentions to his close friend and publisher August Jaeger (1860–1909) that he has started working on a set of variations for orchestra on an original theme (the ‘Enigma’ Variations). Each variation, Elgar explains, is labelled with the nickname of a particular friend and Jaeger (meaning ‘hunter’ in German) is portrayed as ‘Nimrod’ (Variation IX).  The letter reads:

“My dear Jaeger,

Here is the “Grecian ghost which unburied remains inglorious on the plain” or on the hills.

I hope the house-hunting is over satisfactorily and that you have peaceful prospects. Let me know.

Our woods look lovely but decidedly damp and rheumaticky - unromantic just now.

Since I’ve been back I have sketched a set of Variations (orkestry) on an original theme: the Variations have amused me because I’ve labelled ’em with the nicknames of my particular friends – you are Nimrod. That is to say 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 & have written what I think they wd. have written – if they were asses enough to compose – it’s a quaint idee & the result is amusing to those behind the scenes & won’t affect the hearer who ‘nose nuffin’. What think you?

Much love & sunshine to you.

Ed. Elgar.”

Full title:
Letter from Edward Elgar to August Jaeger regarding the ‘Enigma’ Variations
Created:
24 October 1898
Format:
Letter
Creator:
Edward Elgar
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Music Deposit 2018/11

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Exploring Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations

Article by:
Julian Rushton
Themes:
Performance and reception, Music and place, Musical style, Creative process

Julian Rushton discusses the early history of Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations.

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