‘Pomp and Circumstance’

It’s nearly impossible to attend a graduation ceremony and not hear the processional, “Pomp and Circumstance.” The march has become a graduation staple, but the tune was actually written for a different purpose.

Sir Edward Elgar is the composer behind “Pomp and Circumstance,” which was named after a line from William Shakespeare’s “Othello.”

Sir Edward composed the song in 1901, and the march was intended for the coronation of King Edward VII.

When Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Yale University in 1905, the march was played in his honor as a recessional.

Once Yale used the march, other universities began to play the march as well. Eventually it became the trendy thing to do and “Pomp and Circumstance” became forever ingrained in graduation custom.

Today it is hard to imagine a c ommenc ement c eremony without the famed processional and the requisite cap, tassel and gown.

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2011-05-19 digital edition

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