Graduation season is in full swing, and it is interesting to note that today is the birth date of the Englishman who wrote the recognizable music piece we refer to as “Pomp and Circumstance.”
It’s been used at every graduation I’ve ever been to and at graduations across the US.
Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857 in the small village of Lower Broadheath.
His father was apprenticed to a music publisher as a young man, worked as a piano tuner, and sold sheet music and musical instruments.
Music was in their blood, and the Elgar children were trained in music, musical instruments, and music theory. Edward took UP the piano and the violin at the age of eight.
His father, seeing that Edward showed real talent, took him along as he went to the homes of influential people to tune their pianos.
The real name of the song is “Land of Hope and Glory”, March No. 1, and was written for publication and dedicated to a close friend of Elgar and his wife.
It was revised and revamped for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.
Know in the US as the Graduation March, it is played as the processional at most high school and many college graduations.
The first time this occurred was on June 28, 1905 at Yale University when music professor Samuel Stanford, a friend of Elgar’s, invited the Englishman to attend the commencement and receive an honorary doctorate of music.
Elgar gladly accepted, and Sanford assured Elgar was the star of the show!
He enlisted the Glee Club, the Yale College Choir, the music faculty, and many New York professionals to perform two of Elgar’s pieces.
The graduates exited the facility to “Land of Hope and Glory”, March No. 1 or to us, “Pomp and Circumstance”.
That’s how it all started.
Today it is played as a processional rather than a recessional. After all, when graduation’s over, nobody wants to hang around the gym while folks file out!
Mom and Dad are relieved Junior made it out of school, and everyone’s ready to party!