The music of Edward Elgar has become synonymous with a sense of British pride, sentimentality and self-assurance. But most of his musical heroes were not native geniuses, they were the colossuses of continental orchestration, daring innovators of strange styles and bold pioneers of intricate designs.
Elgar reserved little respect for the great English composers, calling William Byrd and the lesser Elizabethans ‘museum pieces’. The richness of Wagner, Berlioz and Saint-Saens informed his most iconic pieces more profoundly than the works of Tallis or Purcell. These foreign influences explain the nature of his music and the source of his singular sound.