Sir Edward Elgar : The Composer

Edward Elgar, together with his wife and daughter, moved to Hereford on 1st July 1904. The composer was then at the height of his powers and real public recognition was being achieved. A few days after the move he traveled to London to be knighted, and thus as Sir Edward he was to spend many of his happiest and most productive years living and working on the fringes of this small, essentially rural, city.

The Elgars imposing new home was at Plas Gwyn (meaning White House in Welsh) on Hampton Park Road to the east of the city centre, and close to the banks of the River Wye. Here he could go salmon fishing, cycle through the surrounding countryside with his friends, or quietly commune with nature at nearby Mordiford Bridge; one of his favorite local haunts. He frequently played the organ in the Cathedral and at St Francis Xavier’s Church in Broad Street.

While living in Hereford Elgar wrote much of his best music:

1904 Pomp & Circumstance March No. 3
1904 Overture: In the South
1905 Introduction and Allegro for Strings
1906 Oratorio: The Kingdom
1907 Wand of Youth suite
1907 Pomp & Circumstance March No. 4
1908 Symphony No 1
1909 Elegy for Strings
1910 Violin Concerto
1911 Symphony No 2
1911 Coronation March

The Music Makers, the orchestral and choral work that tells of musicians’ dreams and aspirations, was also sketched while he was still living at Plas Gwyn although published just after he moved to London. In December 1911 the Elgars purchased a property in Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, which they were to name Severn House, and early in the following year their Herefordshire idyll thus came to an end.

After settling in Hampstead, someone remarked that he must be living in clover now. Elgar replied that they “were leaving the clover behind in Hereford.”