The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Ear salutes all graduates today and offers THE PROCESSIONAL OF ALL PROCESSIONALS – Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 1. Can you think of a better one? Congratulations, grads! | June 13, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

The UW-Madison held its commencement ceremonies in May.

But today is when many high schools around the area will hold commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors. The Ear has been invited to parties celebrating two of them.

graduation caps

What music should I offer to post as my congratulations?

I thought of several choices.

But in the end, I come back to the old royal coronation stand-by: “Pomp and Circumstance” No. 1 by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar (below). By the way, he composed five such marches and some of the others are also pretty good. (Hear them on YouTube.) But No. 1 is The Best.

Edward Elgar

I know! I know!

You’ve all heard it too often.

But its magic – its energy combined with its stateliness and dignity — never fails to stir me.

The Brits just seem to have a special talent for processional marches, much like their gift for pastoral music and musical landscapes.

So here it is, in a popular YouTube video at the bottom from the BBC Proms in 2012. It includes choral singing by the huge crowd that adds to the version. After all, what is the future for graduates if not “The Land of Hope and Glory“?

Is The Ear the only one who gets goosebumps listening to it?

And if you can think of another suitable processional – or even a better one – please leave a note and, if possible, a YouTube link in the COMMENTS section.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2015!


  1. Wagner, March of the Meistersingers or Wedding March from Lohengrin; Auld Lang Syne (actually used in many countries); Sir William Walton’s “Crown Imperial”; William Latham’s “Proud Heritage”; Aaron Coplad’s “Fanfare for The Common Man”; Walter Piston’s “Tunbridge Fair.” Felix Mendelsohn’s Ruy Blas Overture; Henry Purcel’s “The Married Beau”;the Grand March from Verdi’s “Aida”

    Or, Gun and Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle” or Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out”.

    My favorite: Hector Berlioz’s “March to the Scaffold”

    Comment by fflambeau — June 13, 2015 @ 11:52 pm

  2. Grieg: Homage March from ‘Sigurd Jorsalfar’. I do not claim that it is a better graduation march than Elgar’s, but it is the one I marched to when I graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

    Comment by Anders Yocom — June 13, 2015 @ 10:40 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,268 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,373,196 hits
%d bloggers like this: