Letter from Elgar to Jaeger (1898)


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
24 October 1898
Edward Elgar
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Music Deposit 2018/11

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