Salut d’Amour for orchestra
Edward William Elgar
(b. Lower Broadheath, Worcester, 2 June 1857; d. Worcester, 23 February 1934)
By mid-1888, Elgar had achieved several minor successes. In particular, the orchestral Sevillaña (MPH score 1540) had been performed at a Crystal Palace concert in 1884, and two of the Three Characteristic Pieces (MPH score 682) were given in Birmingham in March 1888. A few pieces for violin and piano had been accepted for publication, including by Scott & Sohne of Mainz. But there was nothing to hint at what would occur in the Autumn of 1888.
Elgar earned a living by teaching and in the Autumn of 1886 a new pupil enrolled for pianoforte accompaniment lessons. She was Caroline Alice Roberts, aged 37 or 38 (there is some uncertainty about her birth year); Elgar was 29. She was the daughter of Major-General Sir Henry Gee Roberts, late of the Indian Army, and she had herself been born in India. By the ‘rules’ of mid-Victorian Britain, the two certainties were that she was past the age of marriage and could expect a lifetime as a spinster aunt to her nephews and nieces, and that she was without doubt from a higher social standing than the young music teacher she enrolled with.
Nevertheless, romance blossomed and by the late Summer of 1888 Alice (as she was usually known) realised she had found her partner. On 16 August she wrote a poem, “Love’s Grace”, which she gave to Edward. He in turn wrote her a violin piece with piano accompaniment (presumably something the two could play together) and called it Liebesgruss (Love’s Greeting). As a dedication, he created a portmanteau name – Carice – out of Caroline Alice, an early example of Elgar’s love of playing with words. When eventually their only child was born in 1890, the Elgars gave her the name Carice.
Elgar offered the work to Schotts, who accepted it in versions for violin and piano, piano solo and orchestra, but only for a one-off fee of 2 guineas (£2.10). They decided to alter the title to Salut d’Amour because they thought it would sell rather better in French. They also published it initially as being by “Ed. Elgar”, leaving the nationality vague, because they felt that anything sounding English would not sell! In 1899, they offered a further 10 guineas for more arrangements of the piece. By 1905 they were offering Salut d’Amour in 26 different editions, including several as songs!
This score is the original orchestration, made by Elgar in 1889. It was first played at the Crystal Palace on 11 November 1889, conducted by August Manns.
Elgar’s years of success can be dated from this work, written at the beginning of his relationship with Alice. All his great works are from this period. The last was the Cello Concerto, written in 1919 when Alice was ill. She died in Edward’s arms in April 1920 and the composer – always insecure and subject to depression – never recovered from the loss.
Phillip Brookes, 2016
For performance material please contact Musikproduktion Höflich (www.musikmph.de), Munich.