Edward Elgar’s Third Symphony was left unfinished. But why?
It had been quite some time since Elgar composed a major work. He lost motivation after the death of his wife in 1920 and it wasn’t until 1930 that inspiration struck and he produced several works including the Severn Suite, the fifth Pomp and Circumstance march, and the Nursery Suite. After being prompted by critic George Bernard Shaw to write a Third Symphony, Elgar received a commission from the BBC and began sketches for his final symphony—one that would remain unfinished.
The composition process for the Symphony No. 3 moved rather slowly. Elgar worked on The Spanish Lady opera at the same time and also began to suffer from health issues that delayed his progress.
In 1933, Edward Elgar was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He would never complete his final symphony, but left behind plenty of sketches.
The story of Elgar’s Third Symphony does not end there. Join me next time to hear what became of the sketches that the composer left behind.