Edward Elgar composed his Variations, Op. 36, popularly known as the Enigma Variations, between October 1898 and February 1899, comprising fourteen variations on an original theme.
Elgar dedicated the work 'to my friends pictured within', each variation being a musical sketch of one of his circle of close acquaintances.
In naming his theme ‘Enigma’ Elgar posed a challenge which has generated much speculation but has never been conclusively answered. The Enigma is widely believed to involve a hidden melody.
Augustus J. Jaeger was employed as music editor by the London publisher Novello & Co. He was a close friend of Elgar, giving him useful advice but also severe criticism, something Elgar greatly appreciated. Elgar later related how Jaeger had encouraged him as an artist and had stimulated him to continue composing despite setbacks. The name of this variation refers to Nimrod, an Old Testament patriarch described as 'a mighty hunter before the Lord' – Jäger being German for hunter.
Elgar said that this variation is not really a portrait, but 'the story of something that happened'. Once, when Elgar had been very depressed and was about to give it all up and write no more music, Jaeger had visited him and encouraged him to continue composing. He referred to Ludwig van Beethoven, who had a lot of worries, but wrote more and more beautiful music. "And that is what you must do", Jaeger said and he sang the theme of the second movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 Pathétique. Elgar disclosed that the opening bars of 'Nimrod' were made to suggest that theme. "Can’t you hear it at the beginning? Only a hint, not a quotation."
This variation has become popular in its own right and is sometimes used at British funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions. It is always played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.
The version I play here was arranged for Organ by W H Harris, and I hope you enjoy my interpretation.