Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations , the Pomp and Circumstance Marches , concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius , chamber music and songs.
Although Elgar is often regarded as a typically English composer, most of his musical influences were not from England but from continental Europe. He felt himself to be an outsider, not only musically, but socially. In musical circles dominated by academics, he was a self-taught composer. He married the daughter of a senior British army officer. She inspired him both musically and socially, but he struggled to achieve success until his forties, when after a series of moderately successful works, his Enigma Variations became immediately popular in Britain and overseas.
He followed the Variations with a choral work, The Dream of Gerontius , based on a Roman Catholic text that caused some disquiet in the Anglican establishment in Britain, but it became, and has remained, a core repertory work in Britain and elsewhere. His later full-length religious choral works were well received but have not entered the regular repertory.
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His Pomp and Circumstance Marches include the famous trio which many recognize as the graduation march. In his fifties, Elgar composed a symphony and a violin concerto that were immensely successful. His second symphony and his cello concerto did not gain immediate public popularity and took many years to achieve a regular place in the concert repertory of British orchestras. His stock remained low for a generation after his death.
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It began to revive significantly in the s, helped by new recordings of his works. Some of his works have, in recent years, been taken up again internationally, but the music continues to be played more in Britain than elsewhere. Elgar has been described as the first composer to take the gramophone seriously.
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Between and , he conducted a series of acoustic recordings of his works. The introduction of the moving-coil microphone in made far more accurate sound reproduction possible, and Elgar made new recordings of most of his major orchestral works and excerpts from The Dream of Gerontius. The Enigma itself, the main theme, has not been conclusively identified, even though hints are given for each variation.
His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years.
Strongly influenced by Tudor music and English folk-song, his output marked a decisive break in British music from its German-dominated style of the 19th century. Vaughan Williams was born to a well-to-do family with strong moral views and a progressive social outlook. Throughout his life he sought to be of service to his fellow citizens and believed in making music as available as possible to everybody. He wrote many works for amateur and student performances.
Musically, he was a late developer, not finding his true voice until his late thirties; his studies in — with the French composer Maurice Ravel helped him clarify the textures of his music and free it from Teutonic influences. Vaughan Williams is among the best-known British symphonists, noted for his very wide range of moods, from stormy and impassioned to tranquil, from mysterious to exuberant.
His vocal works include hymns, folk-song arrangements and large-scale choral pieces.
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He wrote eight works for stage performance between and Although none of his operas became popular repertoire pieces, his ballet Job: A Masque for Dancing was successful and has been frequently staged. The First World War, in which he served in the army, had a lasting emotional effect. Twenty years later, though in his sixties and devotedly married, he was reinvigorated by a love affair with a much younger woman, who later became his second wife.
He went on composing through his seventies and eighties, producing his last symphony months before his death at the age of eighty-five. His works have continued to be a staple of the British concert repertoire, and all his major compositions and many of the minor ones have been recorded. It was scored for baritone solo voices, a chorus of tenors and baritones in two parts each , and orchestra.
The complete incidental music is lengthy about 1 hour and 45 minutes and is not often performed. A beautiful Munch-like landscape from hints at his talent. Moving deeper into the Parisian avant-garde, Picabia absorbed Cubism by , evolving an exceptionally muscular style. They achieve an oxymoron, a kind of irrepressible gravity. They dispense with the niceties of Analytic Cubism — the transparencies, drifting brushwork, old master browns and delicate scaffoldings of line — for solid overlapping shapes whose radiant pinks and terra cottas seem lit from within.
These abstract patchworks are at once in motion and carefully puzzled together, seeming both topographical and tapestry-like. By , forms had hardened into sleek, imaginary machines whose titles sometimes identified them as portraits or female bodies — hence their name, Mechanomorphs. He adapted the style of mechanical drawing, while experimenting with painting as an object, using metallic paint and enamel, adding language and bits of relief to his surfaces and paints on raw wood.
In later years he would cultivate cracked paint and other effects.
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This material is hard to summarize but rewards careful looking. By , Picabia returned to painting with a vengeance, as evidenced by the last five galleries of the show.
Hilariously gorgeous, even garish, these colorful, highly tactile works combine oil and enamel, are dense with dots, patterns and sartorial finery and suggest an artist thrilled to be painting again. Depicting mostly kissing couples who evoke carnivorous insects, they might be parodies of the saccharine images of Marc Chagall.
While a little wan, the linear entanglements are elegantly engrossing, and their layering and sampling of existing images are two key strategies of painting since the early s. In the next two galleries, Picabia is all over the place. A portrait of Marlene Dietrich, reduced to a series of brightly layered lines, gives formal punch to the Transparencies technique. Sometimes he produced skilled hackwork, obviously on purpose: paintings of Aryan nudes or works that seem based on Hollywood publicity stills. But opinion may not matter here. Picabia may play as crucial a role for our time as he did for his own.
He refused to choose between the two great factions of early modernism — one conceptual and linguistic and descended from Duchamp; the other, painterly and formal, from Picasso and Matisse. He loved both subversion and the physicality of making things too much to take sides. Past Exhibitions.