The following timeline comes from the program for the 2007 Bard College concert series and symposium entitled Elgar and His World, which was organized by Leon Botstein, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Robert Martin, Artistic Directors, Irene Zedlacher, Executive Director, and Byron Adams, Scholar in Residence 2007. Readers may wish to consult the festival site for additional information about this and past festivals and related publications, including Elgar and His World, ed. Byron Adams, which Princeton University Press published in 2007.

1857 Edward William Elgar born June 2 at Broadheath, near Worcester, fourth (or possibly fifth) child of William Henry and Ann (née Greening).


Rebellion in India; Charles Baudelaire publishes Les fleurs du mal, and Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary.

1859 Elgar family moves to Worcester.

Franco-Austrian War (or Second War of Italian Unification); Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

1864 Attends Miss Caroline Walsh's Catholic dame school in Worcester; begins piano lessons; brother Henry John dies of scarlet fever.

Richard Strauss born.


American Civil War ends; Abraham Lincoln assassinated; births of Jan Sibelius and Paul Dukas; Lewis Carroll (pseudonym of The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) publishes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

1866 Brother Frederick Joseph dies of consumption.

Austro-Prussian War (or Third War of Italian Unification); Dante Gabriel Rossetti paints Monna Vanna.

1867 Earliest known composition, later used in the first Wand of Youth suite (1907).

Karl Marx publishes first volume of Das Kapital.

1869 Begins violin lessons.

Suez Canal opens; premiere of Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold.

1870 Plays violin with Crown Hotel Glee Club.

Franco-Prussian War begins (ends 1871); papal infallibility proclaimed; British Parliament passes Education Act, revolutionizing educational policy in England with the institution of state schools.

1876 Composes Tantum ergo and Salve regina; undertakes violin teaching.

Queen Victoria proclaimed empress of India; premiere of Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen; George Eliot publishes Daniel Deronda; James McNeill Whistler paints Grey and Gold — Snow in Chelsea.

1877 Violin lessons with Adolphe Pollitzer in London.

Thomas Edison announces invention of the phonograph.

1879 Appointed music director of the Worcester City and County Pauper and Lunatic Asylum at Powick.

Sir George Grove publishes first edition of his Dictionary of Music and Musicians; Edison invents long-burning light bulb.

1880 Summer holiday in Paris.

First Boer War begins (ends 1881); Ernest Bloch born; Edward Burne-Jones paints The Golden Stairs.

1882 Appointed conductor of the Worcester Amateur Instrumental Society.

Britain occupies Egypt and the Sudan; Igor Stravinsky born; premiere of Wagner's Parsifal; Edouard Manet completes A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

1883 Visits Leipzig.

Royal College of Music opens in London; Marx dies

1884 Plays violin in Three Choirs Festival Orchestra under Antonin Dvorák.

1885 Supplants his father as organist of St. George's Roman Catholic Church, Worcester.

General Charles Gordon dies at Khartoum; Johannes Brahms composes his Fourth Symphony; premiere of W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan's The Mikado; Walter Sickert paints The Old Bedford Music Hall.

1886 Begins teaching piano to Caroline Alice Roberts.

Friedrich Nietzsche publishes Jenseits von Gut und Böse; deaths of Franz Liszt and King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

1889 Marries Caroline Alice Roberts at Brompton Oratory in London, May 8.

Adolf Hitler born; Henri Bergson publishes Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience; Robert Browning dies; John Singer Sargent paints Portrait of Gabriel Fauré.

1890 Daughter, Carice Irene, born, August 14; premiere of concert overture Froissart, September 10.

John Henry Cardinal Newman dies; Otto von Bismarck resigns as German chancellor; César Franck dies; John Everett Millais paints Lingering Autumn.

1891 Buys Gagliano violin; teaches violin in schools around Worcester, after unsuccessful period in London.

Gabriel Fauré composes La bonne chanson; Sergey Prokofiev born.

1892 Finishes String Serenade; visits Bayreuth to hear two performances of Parsifal.

Arthur Honegger born.

1893 Premiere of cantata The Black Knight, April 18.

Lenin forms Marxist circle in Samara; Pan-German League founded; Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky dies; Edvard Munch paints The Scream.

1894 Begins Scenes from the Saga of King Olaf.

Nicholas II crowned Tsar of Russia; premiere of Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune.

1895 Premiere of Organ Sonata.

Oscar Wilde sentenced to prison after conviction for "gross indecency."

1896 Premieres of The Light of Life at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival, September 8, and King Olaf at the North Staffordshire Festival, October 30.

Premiere of Giacomo Puccini's La bohème; Anton Bruckner dies.

1897 Premiere of Imperial March at the Crystal Palace, April 19.

Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria; First Zionist Congress at Basel; Lenin exiled to Siberia; Brahms dies; Paul Gauguin paints Nevermore.

1899 Premiere of Enigma Variations, conducted by Hans Richter, June 21.

Second Boer War begins (ends 1902); Boxer Rebellion in China begins; premiere of Strauss's Ein Heldenleben; Francis Poulenc born.

1900 Unsuccessful premiere of the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius at Birmingham Triennial Festival, October 3; granted honorary doctorate by Cambridge University, November 22.

Sigmund Freud publishes Die Traumdeutung; deaths of Wilde and Sullivan; Aaron Copland born; Paul Cezanne completes Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from the Bibemus Quarry.

1901 Premiere of Cockaigne Overture, June 20; premiere of Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos. 1 and 2 in Liverpool, October 19; first successful performance of The Dream of Gerontius in Düsseldorf, conducted by Julius Buths.

Death of Queen Victoria; Edward VII accedes to the British throne; assassination of William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt becomes president of the United States; Guglielmo Marconi perfects a radio system that transmits Morse code across the Atlantic.

1902 Mother dies; premiere of Dream Children; second successful performance of The Dream of Gerontius in Düsseldorf; Strauss toasts Elgar as the first "English progressivist" composer, creating controversy in British music circles.

Premiere of Debussy's Pelléas et Melisande; William Walton born; Beatrix Potter publishes The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

1903 Premiere of the oratorio The Apostles at Birmingham Triennial Festival, October 14.

Marie Curie receives Nobel Prize in physics, first female Nobel laureate; Henry James publishes The Ambassadors.

1904 Highly successful Elgar Festival held at Covent Garden, March 14�16; knighthood announced, June 24.

Entente cordiale between Britain and France; Dvorák dies; premiere of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan.

1905 Honorary doctoral degrees conferred by Oxford University, February 7, and Yale University, June 28; begins controversial lecture series at University of Birmingham, March 16; departs for first American tour, June 9; departs on Mediterranean cruise, visiting Istanbul and Smyrna, September 15; buys chemicals and demonstrates his experiments to his neighbor, Count Lubienski.

Russo-Japanese War; mutiny on the battleship Potemkin; premiere of Debussy's La mer.

1906 Premiere of the oratorio The Kingdom at Birmingham, October 3; father dies.

President Theodore Roosevelt awarded Nobel Prize for peace, for his role in negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War, first American Nobel laureate; Britain launches the battleship Dreadnought; premiere of Frederick Delius's Sea Drift; Dimitri Shostakovich born.

1907 Second visit to United States,March 2; conducts The Kingdom in New York.

Rudyard Kipling awarded Nobel Prize in literature; premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams's Toward the Unknown Region; Pablo Picasso paints Les Demoiselles d'Avignon; Edvard Grieg dies.

1908 Acclaimed premiere of Symphony No. 1, directed by Hans Richter in Manchester, December 3; invention, the "Elgar Sulpheretted Hydrogen Apparatus," goes into production.

Kaiser Wilhelm II increases Anglo-German tension with incendiary article published in the Daily Telegraph; Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov dies; premiere of Arnold Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 2; Kenneth Grahame publishes The Wind in the Willows.

1909 Death of Elgar's friend August Jaeger; visits Venice and goes to Garmisch to see Strauss; composes Go, Song of Mine, Elegy for strings, and partsongs.

Premiere of Strauss's Elektra.

1910 Highly successful premiere of the Violin Concerto with Fritz Kreisler as soloist, November 10.

George V succeeds Edward VII; E. M. Forster publishes Howards End; premiere of Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis; Samuel Barber born.

1911 Awarded the Order of Merit; appointed conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra; tours Canada and the United States; premiere of Symphony No. 2, May 24.

Transfer of Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi; George V announces reunification of Bengal; Gustav Mahler dies.

1912 Premieres of the masque The Crown of India, March 11, and The Music Makers, October 1; moves to London; purchases Severn House.

War begins in the Balkans (ends 1913); premiere of Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire.

1913 Premiere of Falstaff at Leeds Festival, October 1.

Premiere of Stravinsky's Le sacre de printemps; Marcel Proust publishes Du côte de chez Swann; Benjamin Britten born; Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase creates a scandal at the Armory Show in New York.

1914 Silver wedding anniversary, May 8; volunteers as Special Constable, August 17; premiere of Carillon, December 7.

Britain enters First World War, August 4; premiere of Vaughan Williams's A London Symphony.

1915 Premiere of The Starlight Express, December 29.

Disastrous expedition to the Dardanelles; Edith Cavell, British nurse and resistance activist in Brussels, executed by the Germans, October 12.

1916 Collapses during train journey, April 8.

Battles of the Somme and Jutland with enormous casualties; Lloyd George succeeds Asquith as prime minister; British composer George Butterworth dies in battle; Albert Einstein publishes paper on the theory of general relativity.

1917 Premiere of the complete Spirit of England, November 24; continued ill health.

Battle of Passchendaele; Russian revolution and abdication of Tsar Nicholas II; United States declares war on Germany; Balfour Declaration promising the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine.

1918 Composes Cello Concerto and three chamber music works at Brinkwells, a cottage in Sussex.

Abdications of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Emperor Karl of Austria; Armistice Day declared November 11, ending war; premiere of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony; Hubert Parry dies.

1919 First performances of three late chamber works, May 21, and Cello Concerto, October 27.

Treaty of Versailles; League of Nations founded; premiere of Gustav Holst's The Planets; Wyndham Lewis paints A Battery Shelled.

1920 Death of Alice Elgar.

Joan of Arc canonized; Hitler's party becomes National Socialist German Workers' Party; premiere of Maurice Ravel's La valse.

1922 Sells Severn House; Carice Elgar marries Samuel Blake.

Daily BBC radio broadcasts begin in England; T. S. Eliot publishes The Waste Land; T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") privately publishes Seven Pillars of Wisdom; premiere of Vaughan Williams's A Pastoral Symphony; Paul Klee paints Twittering Machine.

1923 Departs for Amazon River cruise, November 15.

Premiere of first version of Walton's Façade; György Ligeti born; first production of George Bernard Shaw's play Saint Joan in New York.

1924 Appointed Master of the King's Musick.

Hitler imprisoned, begins to write Mein Kampf; Ramsay MacDonald becomes first Labour prime minister; deaths of Charles Villiers Stanford, Puccini, and Fauré.


General Strike in Britain; premiere of Leos Janácek's The Makropulos Case; Christopher Wood paints Portrait of Constant Lambert.

1927 Records The Dream of Gerontius.

Hindenburg repudiates "war guilt" clause in Versailles Treaty; Virginia Woolf publishes To the Lighthouse; premiere of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex.

1928 Appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO); attends Shakespeare Festival with Shaw; brother Frank dies, June 7.

Britain grants equal voting rights to women; Janácek dies; Thea Musgrave born; Henri Matisse paints Odalisque on a Turkish Sofa.

1929 Records five piano improvisations, November 5.

Wall Street crash; beginning of the Great Depression; premiere of Walton's Viola.

1930 Premiere of the last Pomp and Circumstance March (No. 5), September 18, and Severn Suite, September 27; completes Nursery Suite.

Gandhi declares India's independence from British imperial rule, leads Salt March to Dandi, against a new salt tax; premiere of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms.

1931 Created First Baronet of Broadheath; scandal over Edward Dent's disparaging entry on Elgar in Guido Adler's Handbuch der Musikgeschichte.

Britain abandons the gold standard; Carl Nielsen dies.

1932 At Shaw's urging, the BBC commissions a Third Symphony; Elgar begins desultory work on the symphony.

Franklin D. Roosevelt elected president of the United States; premiere of Ravel's Concerto for left hand for piano and orchestra; John Galsworthy wins Nobel Prize for literature.

1933 Flies to Paris to conduct performance of the Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin (with whom he recorded it the previous year); visits the paralyzed Delius; writes of his dismay at Hitler's anti-Semitic policies in Germany; diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Hitler assumes power in Germany and initiates systematic persecution and eradication of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, the mentally ill, and homosexuals; Prohibition repealed in the United States.

1934 After begging his daughter and his friend W. H. Reed that the barely sketched Third Symphony not be tampered with, Elgar dies, February 23.

Deaths of Holst, May 25, and Delius, June 10.


Elgar and His World. Program for the Bard Music Festival. Anandale-on-Hudson: Bard College, 2007; pp. 7-11.

Last modified 20 August 2007