Edward Elgar: Salut d’Amour

Not content with mere rings to mark their engagement in 1888, Edward Elgar and his wife-to-be Alice exchanged artistic gifts too.

She had given him a poem that she had written a few years earlier, entitled ‘The Wind at Dawn’, although she retitled it ‘Love’s Grace’ for the occasion. Elgar immediately set it to music, winning himself a rather useful £5 in the process when he entered it into a composing competition. (Using a measure of average earnings, that’s the equivalent today of some £2,600 – not a bad day’s work for a would-be composer and his fiancée). In return, Elgar gave Alice a musical love token, entitled Liebesgruss – written in Settle, in Yorkshire.

Never one to look a gift piece in the mouth, Elgar sent a few versions to Schott’s publishers, who gave him just two guineas for it and promptly published it as Salut d’Amour, calling him mysteriously ‘Ed. Elgar’ – the hope being that if he sounded less English, it would sell more. And it did. Sadly, Elgar received only his two guineas.

Recommended Recording

Itzhak Perlman (violin); Samuel Sanders (piano). EMI classics: 4769572.

Illustration: Mark Millington

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

Musical abbreviations quiz

You won’t get 20/20 on this quiz if you don’t know your musical abbreviations

musician would you rather

This musician edition of Would You Rather is completely excruciating

greatest best man speech

Everyone is saying this pianist gave the greatest best man speech of all time