Ave Maria

Elgar's beautiful Ave Maria deserves to be better known

A lilting melody, and lush, intense accompaniment, Elgar's setting of the Hail Mary reflects the spectrum of emotions behind this prayer. It's reflective and passionate in equal measure. He composed the work in 1887, while he was working as organist at St George's Roman Catholic Church, Worcester.

The music was dedicated to the choirmaster's wife, who said: "There must be many pieces among your 'archives' that would, if published, be hailed with delight by the Catholics." How right he was – Elgar revised his Pie Jesu to become the enduringly popular Ave Verum Corpus in 1907.

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