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8 May 2023, 20:53
King Charles on his love for Elgar's abiding melody 'Nimrod'
‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s Enigma Variations has been crowned the greatest piece of British classical music in a Classic FM poll.
Edward Elgar’s abiding melody ‘Nimrod’, from his 1899 Enigma Variations, has been voted the greatest piece of British classical music.
It placed in the top spot of Classic FM’s Great British Classics, followed by Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
From King Charles’ coronation to the 2012 Olympics, Elgar’s tearjerking melody has become a favourite at British cultural events.
His Majesty the King, speaking to Classic FM as the Prince of Wales in 2020, said ‘Nimrod’ was “surely one of the most moving pieces” written by the Worcestershire-born composer.
Elgar aptly named his theme ‘Nimrod’, the name of a Biblical hunter, after his friend and publisher August Jaeger (whose surname is German for ‘Hunter’). Each of the composer’s Enigma Variations are a musical sketch of one of his closest friends and family, including his wife, Alice.
Read more: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 tops Hall of Fame in composer’s 150th anniversary year
With nine pieces appearing in the Top 100, Elgar was the joint second most popular in Classic FM’s Great British Classics, which saw 6,262 people vote for their favourite classical music composed in the British Isles.
Vaughan Williams had 10 pieces in the Top 100, and was the most popular composer in the chart.
Film music was also popular, with 16 pieces voted in including John Barry’s Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves, plus three other pieces by the late British composer.
Two of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s works, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast and Symphonic Variations on an African Air, were voted in, alongside three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas: The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado.
Read more: 10 British composers who shaped the nation’s classical music legacy
Lux Aeterna – Elgar
10. Handel: Zadok the Priest
9. Parry: Jerusalem
8. Butterworth: The Banks of Green Willow
7. Elgar: Land of Hope and Glory
6. Holst: Jupiter (The Planets)
5. Jenkins: The Armed Man
4. Elgar: Cello Concerto
3. Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
2. Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
1. Elgar: Nimrod