Robert Anderson has ranged through diaries, correspondene, and musical manuscripts to convery Elgar's complex personality, his constant need for reassurance, and his struggles to transform himslef from a gifted improvisor into a great composer. Anderson expertly traces the preoccupations that bind together Elgar's life and works. Elgar expressed a heartfelt religious faith in works such as the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, which describes a dying man's vision of a world behond death. Clearly more than a composer of merely English music, Elgar must nevertheless be understood in the light of his English background to appreciate his achievement. Robert Anderson's new biography evokes in lavish detain the society and the culture in which Edward Elgar lived and made his music.