EDWARD ELGAR Salut d’Amour
This month Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes Edward Elgar’s stunningly beautiful Salut D’Amour.
Bridget Mermikides arranges and transcribes another beautiful piece from one of the most typically ‘English’ of all the composers.
In this instalment of our classical guitar series we return to the work of one of England’s most celebrated composers, Edward Elgar (1857-1934) whose Nimrod (from the Enigma Variations) appeared in GT225. Elgar was inspired by the great romantic composers of continental Europe (including Brahms, Schumann and Wagner) but somehow managed to develop this style into an individualistic – and now iconically English – musical voice.
Despite writing some of England’s most rousing and bombastic pieces such as the (very Proms-friendly) Pomp and Circumstance Marches, Elgar was, in fact, a deeply sensitive, humble and melancholic character. This is reflected in many of his works, including the one we are looking at here, Salut d’Amour, Opus 12.
Written in Yorkshire for violin and piano in 1888 (and arranged for orchestra a year later), this piece was composed as an engagement present to his fiancée Caroline Alice Roberts (she had written him a poem in return). The piece had the dedication ‘à Carice’ – a contraction of her two first names and the title (originally written in German, Liebegruss) translates appropriately to ‘love’s greeting’. Incidentally, he also entered the piece for a composing competition and won £5 (£2,600 in today’s money). It was later published by Schott who changed the title to its current French version as they thought it would sell more.
Written in a lilting 2/4 rhythm this piece has an exquisite simplicity and lyrical melody and has since been arranged successfully for a whole range of instrumental combinations, which made the possibility of adapting it for solo classical guitar so attractive. The original was written in E major, which is usually a great key for the guitar, but I’ve opted for D major in drop D tuning, which makes the frequent ‘root-V’ bass movements more idiomatic and adds an appropriate warm resonance. The piece fits really well on the guitar, but like any solo guitar piece, has its share of challenges in the balancing of multiple voices and maintaining a smooth uninterrupted melody over the accompaniment. I’ve addressed the chief technical concerns in the tab captions to guide you through your practice sessions.
dESpitE writing SomE of our moSt rouSing And bombAStic piEcES, ElgAr wAS, in fAct, A humblE And mElAncholic chArActEr
NEXT MONTH Bridget arranges and transcribes Tchaikovsky’s Dance Of The Little Swans
Elgar: one of England’s most celebrated composers