When Elgar left school at the age of fifteen his father asked his friend W A Allen, a local solicitor and the treasurer of St George’s, if he had a position for the young Edward. Elgar thus worked, as what appears to have been office boy and clerk, but left after a year. When Allen died in January 1887 Elgar marked it with a funeral setting from the Requiem Mass for the choir of St George’s, subsequently resetting it to the words of Ave verum in 1902. Ave Maria was similarly written for St George’s and revised with Ave verum for publication in 1902 when the opus number was allocated. The music for Ave Maria is dedicated to Mrs H A Leicester, wife of his friend Hubert Leicester.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2007