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Brahms Symphony No. 1 & Symphony No. 3
It took Brahms many years to compose his First Symphony; he shared much of his compositional journey with Clara Schumann, sending her a birthday card in 1868 with the notation of an Alpine horn tune that became the famous theme of the symphony’s finale.
Elgar Symphonies No. 1 & 2
In 1907 Elgar’s wife Alice wrote in her diary that her husband was playing a ‘great beautiful tune’. This became the opening theme of his First Symphony; the march is marked ‘nobilmente e semplice’ (nobly and simply). This tune reappears throughout the work, finally heard for the last time in the coda to the finale.
Beethoven Symphony No. 3, Eroica & Symphony No. 5 in C minor
Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony transformed the classical symphony, bringing it firmly into the Romantic era. Despite its title there is no specific programme to the work; Deryck Cooke wrote ‘we should regard it as the musical equivalent of an essay on heroism’.
Elgar: Enigma Variations
Each of the variations in Elgar’s Enigma Variations describes one of the composer’s acquaintances; the very famous movement ‘Nimrod’ for example depicts August Johann Jaeger, one of Elgar’s closest friends. The theme on which these variations are based has never been identified for certain; Jaeger called the enigma ‘a bit of Elgar’s humour’.