Elgar provisionally called this short work Soupir d'Amour,
intending it as a companion piece to Salut d'Amour,
a light popular work for the masses. What emerged, however, was a work
of considerably greater substance. He composed it in the months
leading up to the outbreak of the First World War and it was
perhaps the gathering stormclouds of war that moved him to write
a heartfelt, bleak adagio that would not be out of place as the
slow movement of an Elgar symphony.
The dedicatee, W H (Billy) Reed was the leader of the London
Symphony Orchestra. He became a close personal friend of Elgar.
Although Elgar was himself a violinist of some ability, he
frequently turned to Reed for advice on technical issues when
composing works such as the Violin Sonata.
After Elgar's death, Reed was encouraged by George Bernard Shaw
to record his memories of Elgar in the book Elgar as I knew him.