Imperial March (Elgar)

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Imperial March is a piece for full orchestra written by the English composer Edward Elgar to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, as his Op. 32.

In 1896 the publisher Novello's requested that he write an 'Imperial March' for the occasion, as well as a cantata based on the story of St. George and the Dragon.[1] The first performance of the march was at a Crystal Palace concert on 19 April 1897, conducted by August Manns.[2] It was played by massed bands at the Crystal Palace a week later, at a Royal Garden Party on 28 June (the actual anniversary of the Queen's coronation), at a State Concert on 18 June and at the Albert Hall (by the Royal Artillery Band) on 24 October. The music created a great impression as popular music for the mood of the public at the time, and made his name widely known in London.[3]


The work is written for an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets in B, 3 trombones, tuba, 3 timpani, percussion (bass drum, cymbals, and side drum) and the string section.[4]


Pomposo 4/4 B flat major

Noble and silent opening with excerpt 1 will turn into liveliness of feast.

\relative c' { \key bes \major \time 4/4 \tempo "Pomposo." \partial 8
 \clef bass g,8\p ^\markup { (Timp) } bes4-. 
 \clef treble << { d'-^ ^\markup { (Corni) } c8-- bes-- f'16-.[ d-. bes-.] } \\ { bes4 r bes16[ bes bes] } >> r 
 g'4 ^\markup { (Vn) } _\markup \italic sostenuto \< f8.\> g16 es4\!

In the middle section, in E flat major, violin and clarinet expose the theme shown in excerpt 2.

\relative c' \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" } {
 \key es \major \time 4/4 \tempo "Poco meno mosso."
  bes'8. _\markup { \dynamic p \italic { dolce molto espress. } } g16( << aes4)~ { s8 s8_\espressivo } >> aes8. c16( f8.) d16( es8.) c16( << bes4)~ { s8 s8_\espressivo } >> bes8.\< d16( g8.) d16
  ( es8.)\> bes16\!( << d4)~ { s8 s8_\espressivo } >> d8. bes16( c8.) g16( bes8.) g16( << f4)~ { s8 s8_\espressivo } >> f8. g16( aes8.) a16

After the recapitulation of excerpt 1, excerpt 2 leads coda, which mainly uses excerpt 1 and magnificently concludes the work.

Average performance needs 5 minutes, approximately.[5]


  1. ^ Moore, p.219
  2. ^ Kennedy, p.283
  3. ^ Young, p.79
  4. ^ "Elgar: Imperial March" (PDF). Novello & Co., London. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  5. ^ Reisig, Wayne. Imperial March, for orchestra, Op. 32 at AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-07-21.


  • Kennedy, Michael (1987). Portrait of Elgar (Third ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-284017-7. 
  • Moore, Jerrold N. (1984). Edward Elgar: a Creative Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-315447-1. 
  • Young, Percy M. (1973). Elgar O.M.: a study of a musician. London: Collins. OCLC 869820. 
  • Score, Elgar: Imperial March, Novello & Co., London, 1902

External links[edit]