Serenade for Strings (Elgar)
Performed by the United States Army Band Strings ensemble
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It was written in March 1892 and first performed in private in that year, by the Worcester Ladies' Orchestral Class, with the composer conducting. It received its first public performance in Antwerp, Belgium on 21 July 1896.
Although not formally published until 1892, the Serenade is believed to be a reworking of a suite Elgar had written some years earlier, before he had firmly set his sights on a career as a composer. Apart from the two suites called The Wand of Youth, it is therefore probably the earliest of his compositions to survive into the standard repertoire. Certainly, it has a youthful charm while at the same time displaying indications of the skills Elgar developed as he progressed towards musical maturity. It is reportedly the first of his compositions with which he professed himself satisfied.
The central Larghetto is generally accepted as containing the work's finest and most mature writing. The work remains among the most frequently performed of all his music.
The first movement begins in 6/8 time with a rhythmic figure. The second movement is in 2/4 time; it is closest to the mature Elgar in style. The third movement begins in 12/8 time, changing to 6/8 on the reappearance of the theme of the first movement.
- Serenade for Strings: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Recording by A Far Cry from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in MP3 format
- Programme notes from BBC Radio 3
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