‘Nimrod’ is the name given to the ninth and best-known variation in Edward Elgar‘s Enigma Variations, an orchestral work of 14 variations on an original theme composed between 1898 and 1899.
Each variation is also a portrait of one of 14 members of Elgar’s family and circle of friends. A celebrated work in its own right, ‘Nimrod’ is a portrait of Augustus J. Jaeger, Elgar’s editor and publisher.
This serene variation portrays a story, rather than personifies Jaeger, representing the years of advice and encouragement given to Elgar by his friend.
Supporting Elgar throughout depressive episodes and lack of confidence in his work, Jaeger once reminded him of Beethoven‘s music, which only increased in beauty, despite the composer’s similar anxieties. In tribute to this moment,
Nimrod’s opening moments evoke a subtle hint of the second moment theme from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 ‘Pathétique’, which Jaeger had sung to him for inspiration.