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“Nimrod” from Enigma Variations

15 November 2010

Edward Elgar is famous for pretty much only two compositions, both of which are used in very specific and well-known ceremonies. The first, Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches, Op. 39, whose first movement is the classic graduation processional in the United States.

The second is Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra, Op. 36 (“Enigma”), more commonly known as the Enigma Variations. (The enigma is the “original theme”, which is never played.) The ninth variation is known as “Nimrod”, in honor of a close friend of Elgar’s, Augustus Jaeger; Nimrod is a character from the Old Testament renown as a great hunter, and “Jaeger” or “Jäger” in German means “hunter”.

At any rate, “Nimrod” is played yearly at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday (the Sunday closest to November 11, Armistice Day). In this ceremony, the Monarch of England places a wreath at the Cenotaph, the war memorial which particularly commemorates those who died in the First World War.

Remembrance Sunday was yesterday and, as I attended Harvard Memorial Church–itself a war memorial for those who died in WWI, and now for wars since then–“Nimrod” was played on the newly renovated Skinner organ. “Nimrod” has stuck with me since then.

Here, Sir Colin Davis directs the London Symphony Orchestra. If this doesn’t send chills up your spine, check your pulse: you might be dead.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 15 November 2010 17:30

    Thank you for the music, and thanks for the background information as well.

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