The son of an organist, Elgar had no formal music training but learned the organ, violin and bassoon. He began his career as a Romantic, and remained one to the end but the generous display of emotion in his works dismayed many of those who felt that English music should be reserved. The Enigma Variations, featured below, sparked a still-unresolved debate - encouraged by Elgar himself - among scholars and fans that the main theme is not in fact its theme at all but rather a counterpoint to an unknown tune. Each variation is a parody of how the person to whom it is dedicated might play it.

"Pomp and Circumstance" Op.39
Military Marches

No 1 in D major

No 2 in A minor

No 4 in G major

Enigma Variations (1898-9)
Variations on an original theme. Op.36

Theme &
I (C.A.E.) - Caroline Alice Elgar, his wife.

II (H.D.S.P.) - Hew David Steuart-Powell, amateur pianist.

III (R.B.T.) - Richard Baxter-Townsend, author.

IV (W.M.B) - William Meath Baker, "country squire, gentleman and scholar".

V (R.P.A) - Richard P. Arnold, amateur pianist &
VI (Ysobel) - Isabel Fitton, amateur violinist.

VII (Troyte) - Arthur Troyte Griffith, architect, Elgar's piano student

VIII (W.N.) - Winifred Norbury, amateur musician &
IX (Nimrod) - A.J.Jaeger, Elgar's close friend and supporter

X (Dorabella) Intermezzo - Dora Penney, a good friend of the Elgars

XI (G.R.S.) - George Robertson Sinclair, organist at Hereford Cathedral

XII (B.G.N) - Basil G. Nevingson, amateur Cellist

XIII (***) Romanza - possibly Lady Mary Lygon

XIV (E.D.U.) - Elgar identified the initials only as "a paraphrase of a fond name"