This year sees the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar, and amongst his greatest compositions lie the Enigma Variations "the supreme example of how to elaborate in so many different ways upon a simple theme". Indeed, he dedicated the work "to my friends pictured within", each variation being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances.
The ninth variation, Nimrod, is here arranged for voices - not the first to do so. It is dedicated to Augustus J. Jaeger, Elgar’s best friend. It is said that this variation, as well as an attempt to capture what Elgar saw as Jaeger’s noble character, depicts a night-time walk the two of them had, during which they discussed the slow movements of Ludwig van Beethoven (the first eight bars represent the beginning of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata). The name of the variation punningly refers to an Old Testament patriarch described as a mighty hunter, the name Jaeger being German for hunter. The text is the Communion antiphon from the Mass for the Dead.
Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Trans: May everlasting light shine upon them, O Lord, with thy saints in eternity, for thou art merciful. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may everlasting light shine upon them.