in E minor, op 85

Elgar at the piano
A concerto for solo cello and full orchestra in four movements:
1 - Adagio/Moderato; 2 - Lento/Allegro molto; 3 - Adagio;
4 - Allegro/Moderato/Allegro, ma non troppo.

Approximate Length : 30 minutes
First Performance :
Date : 27 October 1919
Venue : Queen's Hall, London
Conductor : the composer
Soloist : Felix Salmond
Orchestra : London Symphony Orchestra
Dedicated to : Sir Sidney and Lady Frances Colvin,
friends of the Elgars

Two concertos for the cello are performed more often than any others. One is by Antonin Dvorak, an epic work brimming with melodies and embracing a wide range of emotion. The other is Elgar's: intimate, highly-concentrated and unlike any other ever written for the instrument. Pablo Casals, Paul Tortelier, Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-Yo Ma are among the cellists who have made landmark recordings of Elgar's concerto, and memorable new interpretations continue to appear. The concerto may be the work of Elgar's with the most universal appeal, but, paradoxically, it is the work of his that is most rooted in a specific moment in time.

Elgar at work
in Severn House in 1919,
the year in which
he composed the concerto

Elgar wrote the concerto in 1919, just after the Great War. Appalled and disillusioned by the suffering caused by the war, he realized that life in Europe would never be the same after such destruction. His first reaction had been to withdraw from composition, and he wrote very little music during the war's first four years. Then, over a period of twelve months - from August of 1918 to the following August - Elgar poured his feelings into four works that rank among the finest he ever composed. The first three were chamber works in which he developed a new musical voice, more concise and subdued than his previous one. The fourth work was the Cello Concerto, Elgar's lament for a lost world. A complete guide to Elgar's Cello Concerto can be found by visiting the following pages.

A complete guide to the Cello Concerto
(co-ordinated, edited and largely written by Frank Beck) :

A Musical Tour of the Concerto

Jacqueline du Pré: The concerto's consummate interpreter?

Creating a Classic: How Elgar came to write the concerto

The Concerto On-stage: J.B. Priestley's The Linden Tree

What Next?: Other Elgar works and works for cello to explore

Suggested Reading: Where to find more Information

A Guide to Forthcoming Performances of the Concerto

How to Order CDs and Scores, including a version for cello and piano

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