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Edward Elgar had the most pragmatic of music educations and apprenticeships, despite an almost complete lack of formal study. At the age of 16 he became the freelance musician that he basically remained the rest of his life. Although his activities were multifarious, he made most of his living at first with the violin, playing and teaching. He began composing music as early as the age of ten, for family performance, and by the time he was 21 he had written a number of character pieces for violin and piano, including his Op. 1, a Romance composed in 1878 while he was taking violin lessons with Adolf Pollitzer in London.

This was a genre that Elgar himself needed as a performer, and which was also highly attractive to publishers. Elgar composed La Capricieuse in 1891, and the sparkling fantasy has been a popular encore piece for violinists ever since. He wrote the luxuriously moody Chanson de Nuit for violin and piano in 1897 and arranged it for small orchestra two years later. The lively Mazurka is the first of Elgar’s Op. 10 Three Characteristic Pieces for orchestra (1899), which are themselves his own revision of movements from a suite he had composed much earlier; it too exists in a version for violin and piano. Bramwell Tovey matches the instrumental grace and the consummate practicality of Elgar with these rearrangements, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

— John Henken