Edward Elgar: Salut d’Amour
Composed in 1888 as an engagement present to his then fiancé Caroline Alice Roberts, Salut d’Amour is composed for solo violin and piano. Elgar subtitled the work Liebesgruss (‘Loves Greeting’). The dedication in french read as Carice, and was a combination of his wife’s name, which was then to be used for the name of their daughter who was born two years later.
There have been multiple arrangements of the work including cello and piano, small orchestra and piano solo. The first public performance of Sault d’Amour was the small orchestral version at a Crystal Palace concert on 11th November 1889.
With a lilting waltz-like accompaniment from the piano the violin enters with a sweet-sounding melody. Set in the violin’s upper register, the theme soars above the simple accompaniment. The 3/4 time signature lends itself to musical breaths between phrases, which pulls on your heartstrings all the way through.
A more jaunty minor version of the theme takes up the middle section of the piece. Elgar’s exploitation of the violin’s true upper register shines through in this section. The violin comes back down into its lower register to play an ascending passage that leads to a small climax.
The piece ends with a short reprise of the main theme before a delicate and poignant close.
Although only short in duration Elgar’s Salut d’Amore is jam-packed full of sweet melodies and poignant harmonies. Driven by love, Elgar’s feelings about Caroline Alice shine through this ode to his soon to be wife.
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