June 2007 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar. Here, to mark the occasion, is a collection of new essays by a distinguished group of contributors. They deal with Elgar the Man and Composer, as well as with issues connected to Elgar's lasting legacy and to the performance of his music. Elgar was a man of many contradictions. He was born an outsider, into a family of lower-middle class, Catholic, origins. Yet his fame, and ability to write music that struck a chord in the national consciousness, led him to adopt a sycophantic attitude towards the Royal Family and high society, even though he always felt ill at ease with them. Elgar was a depressive with a problematic marriage, who craved recognition, but in many ways he regretted the piece of music which made him famous. 'Pomp and Circumstance' made him the leading English composer of his age, but also contributed to the jingoism which he so disliked during the First World War. Yet, unquestionably, he was the greatest musical genius that England had produced in centuries. This "Anniversary Portrait", by some of the scholars and musicians that understand him best, offers interesting new light on a wide range of aspects of Edward Elgar's life and work. Richard Strauss' famous toast to Elgar in 1902 - to the welfare and success of the first English progressivist - looks startling today. Is not Elgar the last embodiment of a fading Empire, a composer of late romantic music that even for its period was behind the times? That cliched view has become ever more inadequate over a period when Elgar's music has increasingly been performed and acknowledged internationally.