Edward Elgar

Imperial March, for orchestra, Op. 32

    Description by Wayne Reisig

    Although he had not yet broken through to an international audience with the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance marches, Elgar was already making a name for himself in England when he asked for a musical contribution to the upcoming Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 1897, he responded with this Imperial March for orchestra.

    Although the work is generally conventional in utterance, Elgar here put something of his own fingerprint on the traditional British ceremonial march. After a restrained, deliberately paced first theme, the striking second theme offers a radical departure. Highly percussive and rhythmic, it borders on what Victorian standards would have deemed excessive and even barbaric. Perhaps the composer intended to evoke the Janissary music of the previous century. The exoticism was appropriate to the work's imperial theme, for the British Empire now extended to even more exotic lands than had the Austrian of Mozart's day. This unusual music, however, is abutted by a more restrained trio in Elgar's engaging childlike mode. With the reprise of the opening, the bold second theme is worked into the coda. Elgar introduced just the right amount of daring in the march, still staying within the bounds of dignity; the work met with acclaim and paved the way to future knighthood for its composer.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Alto MCS 1313
    2016 Priory Records 1153
    2015 MDG Gold MDGCD 3161907
    2015 Regent REGCD 463
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94959BR
    2015 Willowhayne Records LNHWLW 19729
    2012 ATMA Classique 22674
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099932728
    2012 Memory Lane GLMY 54
    2012 Regent REGCD 385
    2010 Priory Records 1037
    2010 Regent 325
    2010 Washington National Cathedral 0701
    2009 Chandos 10570
    2008 Regent 191
    2008 The Gift of Music CDG1126
    2008 Priory Records 6010
    2008 Decca 4300912
    2007 LPO 16
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950360
    2007 EMI Classics
    2007 Klavier Records 11165
    2007 Pro Organo 7210
    2006 Naxos 8 552133/4
    2005 Erato
    2003 Elgar Editions 002
    2003 Erato
    2003 Griffin 4038
    2002 Naxos 8558058
    2002 Decca 473 249-2
    2002 Pro Organo 7141
    2000 ASV 6160
    2000 Disky / Disky Communications 99680
    2000 Disky 99679
    1999 ATMA Classique 22214
    1999 Meridian Records 84389
    1998 Virgin / Warner Classics 7243561430
    1997 Carlton Classics 6600532
    1997 Hyperion CDA66978
    1997 Decca 4529382
    1996 Direct-To-Tape 8305
    1995 Gothic Records 49076
    1995 Virgin Classics 7243561199
    1994 Naxos 550634
    1994 VAI Audio 1067
    1993 Bandleader 5047
    1992 CBS Records / Sony Classical 48473
    1990 Decca / London 430145
    Beulah 2PD4
    Amphion 131
    Virgin Classics 59626
    IMP Classics 913
    ORC 11016
    RCA 60243
    Gamut Classics 704
    Bandleader 5029
    Culver 10001