Friday, June 21, 2019

Elgar's Wagneresque Quotations in Variation XIII

My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you.
Jesus praying in Mathew 11:25-26

The German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) exerted a profound and lasting impact on the English composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934). So undeniable is this fact that Barry Millington, the Editor of The Wagner Journal, writes that Wagner’s “...influence on the harmonic language of composers such as Parry, Stanford and Elgar is self-evident.” From 1877 through 1902, Elgar attentively studied Wagner’s orchestration, innovative harmonic language, and system of Leitmotifs. During these 25 years, Elgar regularly heard Wagner’s music in London at concerts conducted by Hans Richter and August Manns. He also made numerous trips to Germany to bask in the mythical romanticism of Wagner’s operas. These protracted efforts culminated in 1900 with The Dream of Gerontius, a numinous homage to Wagner’s final opera Parsifal.
Wagner's influence on Elgar's music is a fertile field of research and scholarship. In his groundbreaking 1985 paper Elgar and Wagner, Peter Dennison unmasks and documents Leitmotifs from Wagner’s operas in Elgar’s early choral works. Dennison reasons that a careful study of Wagner's music permeated Elgar’s compositions. Consistent with this pattern, Elgar adapted Wagnerian Leitmotifs in Chanson de Nuit, a solo violin piece with piano accompaniment composed in 1889-90. In 2008, Laura Meadows picked up where Dennison left off in her exhaustive thesis Elgar as Post-Wagnerian: A Study of Elgar’s Assimilation of Wagner’s Music and Methodology. Meadows lays out a compelling case that Elgar was “profoundly influenced by Wagner from an early age and this influence gradually infiltrated his compositional thoughts.” She traces this process through Elgar’s large-scale choral and orchestral compositions through 1899.
Ian Beresford Gleaves ventures further down this path in his article Elgar and Wagner published in the July 2007 issue of The Elgar Society Journal. He observes that Wagner’s enduring impact on Elgar extended to his orchestration of the Enigma Variations which “assimilates many of Wagner’s methods, particularly as regards the tutti.” He also draws attention to a Wagnerian modulation in bars 30-31 of Variation I that recalls bars 16-17 of the Prelude to Act I of Tristan. Although not recognized until now, Elgar further emulates Wagner’s methods in his treatment of the melodic quotations from Mendelssohn’s overture Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage) in Variation XIII. Only one work by Wagner incorporates melodic fragments by another composer—the Kaisermarsch (Imperial March) composed in 1871.
There are some extraordinary parallels between Wagner's quotations of Martin Luther's hymn Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) in the Kaisermarsch and Elgar's Mendelssohn quotations in Variation XIII. The impetus for comparing these two sets of melodic quotations emerged from two factors. As previously outlined, the first is that Elgar was deeply influenced by an intensive study of Wagner’s music from 1876 through 1902. The second is that the covert Theme to the Enigma Variations is Ein feste Burg, the renowned battle hymn of the Protestant Reformation composed by a heretic excommunicated by Pope Leo X. This melodic solution readily explains why Elgar, a practicing Roman Catholic, adamantly refused to disclose the melodic lynchpin to his Enigma Variations.
The first and most obvious parallel to emerge between the melodic quotations in Kaisermarch and Variation XIII is they originate from alien works with original Geman titles by other German composers. Wagner cites Ein feste Burg by Martin Luther, and Elgar quotes Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt by Felix Mendelssohn. Far from being remote from one another, Luther and Mendelssohn are linked by a variety of factors. Mendelssohn was baptized a Lutheran on the anniversary of Bach’s birth.  Luther’s Ein feste Burg is quoted by Mendelssohn in the fourth movement of the Reformation Symphony. They spoke German, contributed to the establishment of the German School, and espoused the importance of sharing the gospel message through hymns and other sacred music.
A second conspicuous parallel concerns the number of melodic quotations in Kaisermarsch and Variation XIII. There are four citations of Ein feste Burg in Kaismarch, and four from Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage in Variation XIII. A third parallel is that Wagner’s and Elgar’s four melodic fragments are framed in three contrasting keys. Wagner selected the major modes of B-flat, E-flat, and A-flat. Elgar chose A-flat and E-flat major, matching two of Wagner’s three key choices. His divergent key choice of F minor is associated with Wagner’s B-flat major quotation as that phrase cadences in the parallel key of F major.
A fourth parallel centers on the distribution of the melodic fragments. Three of Wagner’s quotations are of the opening phrase of Ein feste Burg (Phrase A), and the fourth of its ending phrase (Phrase B). Although Elgar’s citations are of the same melodic fragment, they reflect a similar distribution because three fragments are in a major mode and one is in a minor key. Wagner’s fourth and final fragment from Ein feste Burg is in E-flat major. This presents a fifth parallel as Elgar’s fourth and final Mendelssohn quotation is also in that identical key.
A sixth parallel is the number of notes in Wagner’s quotations corresponds to those in Elgar’s clarinet solos that introduce the Mendelssohn quotations. There are ten notes in Wagner’s quotation of Phrase A from Ein feste Burg. There are four notes in Elgar's Mendelssohn quotations in A flat major, and this phrase is further elaborated by six more notes to form a coherent clarinet solo comprised of ten notes. There are nine notes in Wagner's quotation of Phrase B from Ein feste Burg. Elgar's Mendelssohn fragment in F minor has four notes that are extended with the addition of five more notes to form a complete nine-note soli. A seventh parallel is based on how Wagner and Elgar orchestrated their quotations. The F minor Mendelssohn fragment is performed in octaves by the trumpets and trombones. This same orchestration technique is deployed by Wagner for his Ein feste Burg quotations with the melodic line dominated by the trumpets and trombones at the octave.
An eight parallel is the concluding notes of each set of melodic quotations encode the initials of an important three-word phrase in the German language. The final notes of Wagner’s melodic fragments of Ein feste Burg in order of appearance are F, B-flat, and E-flat. Those three note letters are an anagram of the initials for Ein feste Burg. The last notes of the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII are A-flat, F, and E-flat. Those three letters are an anagram of violinist Joseph Joachim’s personal romantic motto “Frei aber einsam” (Free but lonely). Those initials served as the foundational motif for the F-A-E Violin Sonata composed in honor of Joachim by Robert Schumann, Albert Dietrich, and Johannes Brahms. Through the key letters of the Mendelssohn fragments, Elgar enciphered a well-known music cryptogram used by famous German composers.
As a young protégé of Mendelssohn, Joachim confidently performed Beethoven’s violin concerto at a Royal Philharmonic Society concert in London on May 27, 1844. At only twelve years of age, Joachim was granted a special exemption from a rule barring child prodigies. Joachim was a perennial favorite of Queen Victoria and the British public. It is entirely fitting that his romantic motto is encoded by the keys of melodic fragments composed by his champion, Felix Mendelssohn. Like Joachim’s motto, the title of the covert Theme to the Enigma Variations is three words in German.
There is another intriguing cryptographic link between Wagner's and Elgar’s melodic quotations because both sets encode the initials for Ein Feste Burg. In Wagner's Kaisermarsch, the three Phrase A quotations of Ein feste Burg are presented in three contrasting keys: B-flat major (bars 42-46), E-flat major (bars 61-66), and A-flat major (bars 183-187). Each Phrase A quotation concludes with a half cadence a fifth above the starting key. The B-flat major fragment cadences in F major; the E-flat major fragment cadences in B-flat major; the A-flat major fragment cadences in E-flat major. The key letters of those three half cadences (F, B-flat, and E-flat) are an anagram of the initials for Ein feste Burg. These fragments are drawn from Bach's version from the final movement of his sacred cantata Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 80. Wagner revered Bach, a Lutheran composer who encoded words in his music.
Elgar enciphers the same three initials alluded to by the enigmatic title (***) in his handling of the Mendelssohn fragments. The key to this code is rather simple. The number of statements of a fragment in a given key designates the corresponding scale degree of that key as the solution letter. Two fragments in A-flat major implicates the second scale degree of that mode (B-flat). One fragment is in F minor pinpoints the first scale degree of that key ( F). There is also one final quotation in E-flat major that designates the first scale degree of that mode (E-flat). Those three note letters are the absent initials indicated by the three mysteries asterisks in the title of Variation XIII. It is remarkable that the first letters in the titles of the movements immediately before (XII B. G. N.) and after (XIV E. D. U. & Finale) Variation XIII also provide those same initials. Elgar wrote those three letters as FEb on the Master Score, twice on the covert and again on the final page. He also provided those three letters in the form of an acrostic anagram at the conclusion of the extended Finale completed in July 1899.
There is yet another tantalizing link between Wagner’s Kaisermarsch and the Mendelssohn fragments cited in Variation XIII. The accompaniment to the Mendelssohn fragments consists of a pulsating ostinato derived from the Enigma Theme’s palindromic rhythm of alternating pairs of eighth notes and quarter notes. In Morse Code (a system Elgar knew well), this palindromic ostinato spells out the letters MI following by IM. These two sets of initials match those for the French (Marche Impériale) and English (Imperial March) translations of the original German title. Elgar encoded within the accompaniment figure the French and English initials of a work by Wagner that quotes the covert Theme in a manner eerily similar to Elgar’s handling of the Mendelssohn fragments.
There are some interesting points of correspondence between the Enigma Theme and Kaisermarsch. Both are set in common time (4/4) and have two flats in the key signature with Kaisermarsch in B-flat major, and the Enigma Theme in the relative key of G minor. Wagner employs the G minor chord as the harmony for the first note of the opening Ein feste Burg quotation in bar 42.  There are other similarities between the Kaisermarsch and the Enigma Variations. For instance, a series of descending melodic fourths beginning at 234 of the Kaisermarsch are virtually identical to the falling melodic fourths at the outset of Variation XIII that is repeated several times throughout the movement.

Wagner’s Kaisermarsch was exceedingly popular from 1877 through 1911 before the conflagration of World War I rendered all things German strictly verboten. On May 7, 1877, Wagner conducted Kaisermarsch at a rehearsal in the Royal Albert Hall. Hubert Parry attended the event and recorded this reaction in his diary:
All the morning at the rehearsal at the Albert Hall. Wagner conducting is quite marvellous; he seems to transform all he touches, he knows precisely what he wants and does it to a certainty. The Kaisermarsch became quite new under his influence and supremely magnificent. I was so wild with excitement after it that I did not recover all the afternoon. The concert in the evening was very successful and the Meister was received with prolonged applause but many people found the Rheingold selection too hard for them.
Elgar heard numerous performances of Wagner’s Kaisermarsch in the years leading up to the genesis of the Enigma Variations. As documented in Christopher Fifield’s thoroughly researched and endlessly fascinating biography, Hans Richter conducted no less than fifteen performances of Kaisermarch at Richter Concerts in London between 1879 and 1897. The dates of those performances are listed below:

  • May 7, 1877
  • May 28, 1877
  • May 5, 1879
  • May 3, 1882
  • June 2, 1883
  • April 21, 1884
  • October 24, 1885
  • October 23, 1886
  • May 7, 1888
  • June 24, 1889
  • July 14, 1890
  • July 20, 1891
  • May 30, 1892
  • May 20, 1895
  • May 31, 1897

Elgar likely attended most if not all of these performances in his quest to hear Wagner’s music. Richter’s towering influence assured that the Kaisermarsch would be programmed by other orchestras throughout England during that era. The August 1, 1889 issue of The Monthly Musical Record contains a glowing review of a June 24 Richter Concert in London that was capped off by the Kaisermarsch:
The “Kaisermarsch” — that grand page of brilliant orchestral writing to celebrate a grand page in German history — again produced its overpowering effect at the conclusion of one of the finest concerts of the season.
That article also mentions the premiere of Hubert Parry’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor dedicated to Hans Richter. It describes “the diffuse finale” of that work with “its marked reminisces from…‘Kaisermarsch’...” Elgar attended that premiere after only recently settling in Kensington with his wife following their marriage in May 1889. Elgar gleaned insight and knowledge from Parry’s contributions to Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, performed his music as a sectional violinist, and publicly acknowledged Parry as “the head of our art in this country.” As evidence of his respect towards Parry, Elgar orchestrated his Jerusalem which is now a mainstay at the Last Night of the Proms.
Elgar’s handling of the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII proves to be a stealth homage to Wagner’s treatment of Ein feste Burg in the Kaisermarsch. This analysis identified nine parallels between these two sets of melodic quotations, a sum too high to be ascribed to chance. The cryptographic links are the most intriguing as both series of quotations encode the initials for Ein feste Burg. It may be confidently argued that Elgar’s emulation of Wagner in his handling of the Mendelssohn fragments implicates Ein feste Burg as the covert Theme to the Enigma Variations. The overwhelming evidence for this discovery is contrapuntal, cryptographic, and multivalent as it accounts for a range of anomalies such as the conspicuous insertion of the Mendelssohn quotations. To learn more concerning the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Elgar's 1924 Andante Sketch Ciphers

A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 King James Version

Recent news reports heralded the discovery of a previously unknown musical sketch by Edward Elgar (1857-1934). Given the title Andante, it was tucked away between the pages of an autograph book belonging to Lydia Tabb (1897-1983), a matron and fundraiser for the British charity Barnard0’s. The album is signed by 69 luminaries including Winston Churchill, J. M. Barrie, Charlie Chaplin, Guglielmo Marconi, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle. The album dates from 1923 and sold at auction for £3600. Elgar’s diminutive musical sketch fetched the more sizeable sum of £5400. His Andante’s parts prove far greater than its sum for, like the mysteries solved by the perceptive detective Sherlock Holmes in Doyle's novels, it is in many respects an enigma.

The Andante sketch stands apart from Elgar's other autographed musical excerpts for a minimum of eight reasons. First, it is hastily written with a different pen and ink than the autograph and date which have a thicker, darker line and appear to have been added later. Second, it is on staff paper when many samples were executed freehand on stationary without the benefit of printed staff lines. Third, the sketch was kept in a book signed by other famous personages, implying Elgar gave it to Lydia Tabb for her private autograph collection rather than a public charity auction. Fourth, the sketch is not from one of Elgar’s well-known works, but something fresh and original—a three-voice perpetual canon at the octave in E-flat major performed over an E-flat pedal tone trill.

A fifth reason why the Andante sketch is unusual is that with six measures it is conspicuously longer than other autographed extracts. Sixth, the J in the month lacks a hook at the bottom which makes it resemble a capital T. Seven, the cross of the t in etc misses that letter entirely and is positioned over the c. Eight, there is a small round hole punched in the upper lefthand corner of the page. When considered collectively, all of these oddities render Elgar’s Andante sketch decidedly anomalous and distinct from his other known autographed extracts. The ensuing analysis will draw together those disparate departures from the norm into an overarching pattern consistent with a musical cryptogram.
Making out the day (24) and year (1924) on the Andante sketch is effortless, but deciphering the month proves far more problematic due to Elgar’s serpentine penmanship. In a letter to Hans Richter written in late August 1903, Elgar resorted to a typewriter because of his desperately jumbled script. He typed, “I write this on the Schreibmaschine, first, to shew you that it is not broken, and second, so that you shall not have the trouble to decipher my poor dilapidated writing.” Elgar's handwriting was sufficiently defective in 1903 for him to employ a typewriter, and the passage of more than two decades only exacerbated the problem.
The first letter of the month on the Andante sketch is an incomplete J missing the hook that makes it resemble a capital T. The second letter looks like an oversized a, but fails to closely match any in the title (Andante) or the autograph (Edward Elgar). Another prospective reading of this second letter is an uppercase U. Elgar sometimes capitalized the second letter of the month as illustrated by “FEb” on the cover of Enigma Variations Master Score.

The month on the Andante sketch is definitely not “July” as shown in a 1908 letter to Alfred H. Littleton. Two possible readings of the month are “Jany” with the n and y fused together, or “June” ending with a stilted or absent e. Interpolating the last letter as an absent or distorted e without a discernible loop is bolstered by the defective J which also lacks a curved hook at its base.
Elgar was often asked by friends and charities to pen short score excerpts from his better-known compositions. He donated numerous samples consisting of a few bars which display considerable attention to small details like articulation and phrase markings.  These are typically executed neatly and in freehand without the benefit of staff paper. One such example is a brief quotation from his violin concerto dating from “Jany 191o.” Observe the n and y in “Jany” (an abbreviation for January) do not overlap, making this abbreviation dissimilar from what appears on the Andante sketch. Such a discrepancy lends further credence to a June reading.

Elgar scholars Arthur Reynolds and Martin Bird concur the month is an abbreviation of January, and one is inclined to defer to their expert opinion. However, it remains plausible Elgar's rushed and dilapidated script is a clever wordplay on June as Tune. Such a reading is made possible by the incomplete J that looks like a T, the second letter resembling a U, and n followed by what may be viewed as a truncated or absent e. Such an Elgarian wordplay on that month is entirely befitting an original musical sketch.

The alternative reading of the month as Tune is followed by the number 24. “Tune 24” implicates a melody with 24 notes. Is there a tune with that specific complement of notes that is hinted at by Elgar’s Andante sketch? There is, and like the sketch, is it precisely six measures in length. It is the Enigma Theme from the Variations composed a quarter century earlier in 1898-99.
The Enigma Theme’s opening G minor section has 24 melody notes dispersed evenly in four-note groupings over six bars cordoned off by an untypical double bar in the published version. An early short score of the Enigma Theme from October 1898 was forwarded to August Jaeger “to be critikised,” evincing an example of Elgar’s affinity for wordplay using inventive spellings. Although it lacks a double bar at the conclusion of measure 6, the short score has 24 melody notes in its opening six measures.

There is an astonishing array of coded convergences between Elgar’s long lost Andante sketch and the Enigma Variations that point to a carefully crafted architecture consistent with a musical cryptogram. Elgar’s breakout symphonic masterpiece premiered June 19, 1899. Interpreting Elgar’s sloppily written month as “June” in combination with the century furnishes a coded reference to that pivotal turning point in his career: June 24, 1924. Like the sketch, the performance direction for the Enigma Theme is Andante. The sketch is a perpetual three-voice canon, and a particular genre is the enigma canon. Although the Andante sketch is not of this type, it is an enigma because of the anomalies that set it apart from Elgar's other autographed sketches.
The distant spacing of the voices within the sketch prevents a performance by one pianist, an impediment that led observers to theorize it must be a short score for a string quartet. This is remarkable because the opening six bars of the Enigma Theme are written exclusively for the string quartet. A realization of Elgar’s Andante sketch for string quartet illustrates how its four voices may be readily divided among two violins, a viola, and a cello.

The harmonic interval formed in the first bar between the concurrent E-flats is a 15th. That number is significant as there are fifteen movements in the Enigma Variations culminating with Elgar’s (E. D. U.) triumphant Finale as the fifteenth. Observe that when spelled out the number fifteen has two consecutive e’s reminiscent of his initials. Plagal cadences punctuate the Andante sketch in bars 4 through 6. The Enigma Theme has Plagal cadences in bars 6-7 and 16-17. The Plagal cadence is popularly known as the Amen cadence because that prayerful utterance is often sung in sacred music in conjunction with that cadential formula. As a topos for the sacred, the Plagal cadence was embraced by German Romantic composers such as Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Wagner. Elgar was an unabashed student of the German School who dreamed of studying music at the Leipzig Conservatory which was founded by Mendelssohn in 1843.
The E-flat pedal tone on the lowest bass staff has a trill symbol below it followed by a wavy line running through all six measures to denote a continuous rapid alternation between the written E-flat and F a whole step higher. The interval produced between the unwritten F and the first melody note is a 14th, another salient figure as there are fourteen Variations. More significantly, the note letters E and F are the first two initials in order from the covert Theme’s title, Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by the German reformer Martin Luther. The remaining initial is provided by the flat symbol that originates from a stylized lowercase b. That letter is also suggested by the number of notes (2) needed to execute the trill figure the second letter of the alphabet is B. It is rather coincidental that this is also the first letter in Barnardo's. The number two is further implied by the trill symbol (tr) which is indicated by two letters.
The first melodic interval of the canonic subject is an E-flat rising by a major third to G tied over the barline into measure 2. The second voice enters in measure 2 a minor sixth above the first. These first two melodic intervals encode in order the opus number (36) of the Enigma Variations. In a stunning convergence, there are 36 written sounding notes in the Andante sketch when factoring in twelve ties that produce an uninterrupted sound between two written notes. The melodic intervals of the first voice in measure 2 are a rising 4th and descending 2nd followed in bar 3 by another rising 4th. The intervals 2 and 4 may be paired together to form 24, the day and year of Elgar’s autograph. More significantly, the number 24 represents the number of notes in the Enigma Theme’s opening six measures as well as the total letters in the covert Theme’s complete six-word title, Ein feste Burg ist Unser Gott.
The poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a geyser of inspiration for Elgar’s early works such as The Black Knight, The Saga of King Olaf, and the lieder Rondel. Longfellow devoted decades to his translation of La Divina Comedia by Dante (1265-1321) which served as a template for the title of The Divine Tragedy. Longfellow’s reverence for Dante was so great that he kept parts of Dante’s coffin in his Cambridge study. There is a part of Dante in Elgar’s musical sketch as his name is literally spelled out in the title Andante. Elgar makes numerous allusions to that great Italian poet in the Enigma Variations beginning with that same tempo indication for the Enigma Theme. In Dante’s Inferno, the babbling giant Nimrod is imprisoned along the banks of the Ninth Circle of Hell and blows a brass horn to draw attention to himself. In deference to that poetic association between that biblical giant and the number nine, Elgar gave Variation IX the title Nimrod which symbolically concludes with a blast from the brass section.
Dante exerted a profound influence on his successors including the prince of poets, Torquato Tasso (1544-1595). Two trill symbols (tr) appear on the Andante sketch with one at the beginning of each line. The first two letters of these trill symbols are an acrostic anagram of Tasso’s initials. Elgar penned a six-word paraphrase from Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered at the conclusion of the original Finale to the Enigma Variations. The number six is granted a subtle but discernible emphasis in the Enigma Variations. There are six movements with six-letter titles.  The first movement has a title with six-letters—Enigma—and begins with a six-bar section with six distinct note letters in both the melody and bass lines. These opening six measures contain a musical Polybius box cipher with a 6 by 6 key that encrypts the complete 6-word title of the covert Theme in the form of a grand anagram. Even the quotation marks preceding the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII are a silhouette of 66.
Like the Variations, there is a coded stress on the number six in the Andante sketch. For instance, it is comprised of six measures. The canonic subject is made up of six discrete notes: Two E-flats an octave apart, G, A-flat, B-flat, and C. The twelve notes of the canonic subject are divided equally into two six-note phrases. The Andante sketch has a total of 36 written sounding notes, the same as the opus number of the Enigma Variations which is the product of 6 multiplied by itself. There are precisely six discrete terms written on the Andante short score. Two are names, and four are abbreviations. These figures serve as a coded reference to 24, the day and year on the Andante sketch. Those six terms and names are listed below:
  1. Andante
  2. PP (an abbreviation for pianissimo)
  3. tr (an abbreviation of trill)
  4. etc (an abbreviation for etcetera)
  5. Edward Elgar
  6. Jany (an abbreviation for January) or plausibly June
Elgar’s fascination for wordplay was expressed through creative spellings, anagrams and imaginative cryptograms like the Dorabella Cipher. It is remarkable the first letters of four words on the Andante sketch—Jany (or alternatively June), Andante, pianissimo, and etc—may be reshuffled to spell “Jape.” Elgar was fond of that term which turns up periodically in his correspondence. The Cambridge Dictionary defines jape as “an activity done to make someone laugh or to trick someone.” In his 1901 sketchbook, Elgar wrote “Jape” to describe his earliest surviving piece of music called “Humoreske, a tune from Broadheath 1867.” The coded reemergence of that word in his Andante short score is undoubtedly a stealth homage to his earliest surviving sketch.

The Andante canon sounds far too solemn and noble to be passed off as a humorous prank, begging the question why Elgar would use its various terms to encipher “Jape” in the form of an acrostic anagram. For an October 1911 performance in Turin, Elgar explained in the program note how the Enigma Variations “...commenced in a spirit of humor & continued in deep seriousness….” Like numerous elements of the Andante sketch, an anagrammatic reference to “Jape” serves as a dual allusion to the Enigma Variations and a great fount of artistic and spiritual inspiration, The Divine Comedy. Both works are characterized by a mingling of the humorous with the serious.
The first letters of the remaining words (Edward Elgar, and trill) may be reshuffled to spell TEE, a literal spelling of the letter t. Another definition of tee is “something shaped like a capital T.” Such an apt description of the incomplete J would confirm that Elgar's defective script was not entirely mercurial.  The two e’s in TEE come from Elgar’s initials. As a male, Elgar is referred to as a “he.” Appending this male pronoun to TEE produces tee-hee which means to giggle or titter.  Such an interpolative decryption shares a reciprocal definition with “jape” because the intended reaction to a practical joke is to laugh.
Jesus is the chief protagonist of Dante's Divine Comedy, Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, and Longfellow's The Divine Tragedy. This towering figure whose birth divides the millennia between BC and AD is the secret friend memorialized by Elgar in Variation XIII and the violin concerto. Such a revelation is not unexpected as Elgar was raised a Roman Catholic, and in his maturity dedicated most of his major works to God by invoking the motto of the Society of Jesus, “Ad majorem Dei gloriam.” Indirect and coded references to Dante and Tasso on the Andante sketch are accompanied by others to Jesus.
There are twelve sounding notes in the canonic subject and twelve ties in the Andante sketch. This number is significant because Jesus descended from one of the twelve tribes of Israel and recruited twelve disciples. There are a total of thirty-six written sounding notes, and the Gospels document thirty-six miracles performed by Jesus, twelve of which were voluntary. There are two lowercase t’s and one capital T formed by the incomplete J. These symbolize three crosses present at the crucifixion of Christ who was executed between two criminals. A capital J cut off at the bottom to form a T graphically intimates how the life of Jesus (whose name begins with a J) was cut short at the cross. Daniel 9:26 explains the life of the Messiah would be “cut off.” There are three whole rests in the first two bars, and Jesus rested in the tomb for three days. There is a small hole in the upper left corner of the Andante sketch, and Jesus is revered as holy and divine in Roman Catholicism. Three repetitions of the Plagal cadence in bars 4 through 6 of the Andante sketch further reinforce a sense of the sacred.
The prominence of the number three is unmistakable in the Andante sketch. There are three flats in its key signature of E-flat major, and three quarter beats per bar in its time signature of 3/4. In mensural time signatures used between the 14th through 16th centuries, 3/4 meter was known as tempus perfectum (perfect time) and was shown by a circle. The opening melodic interval is a third which occurs only three times in the six-bar sketch. There are three Plagal or Amen cadences and three whole rests. The Andante sketch is a perpetual triple cannon at the octave which is a sublime representation of the Trinity, a fundamental tenet of Roman Catholicism. Elgar’s not-so-secret friend, Jesus, is a Divine Person of the Triune Godhead.
There is a small circular hole in the upper lefthand corner of the Andante sketch. A circle is suggested by a perpetual cannon as an everlasting round. The Enigma Theme encodes the mathematical number Pi in its first and eleventh bars using the scale degrees of its opening four melody notes. Pi is the unchanging ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The decryption of a Music Box Cipher in the Enigma Theme’s first measure is a phonetic spelling of Jesus as GSUS. Combining the decrypts of the Enigma Theme Pi Cipher and Music Box Cipher in the first bar generates “Pi GSUS.”  Pi closely resembles “Pie,” the Latin word for pious. The final couplet of the Dias Irae is “Pie Jesu,” which translates as “Pious Jesus.” In a religious sense, pious is defined as holy. A small round hole in the page of an Andante sketch of a perpetual three-voice round furnishes ample circular symbolism that may be readily linked to the Enigma Theme’s coded references to a circle and the secret friend of Variation XIII, Jesus, who is considered both eternal and holy by Roman Catholics.
Just as there are six distinct terms on the sketch, there are also six separate numbers. Four appear in the time signature (two 3s and two 4s), and two in the date as the day 24 and year 1924. It has been shown how the number 24 is the sum of the melodic notes from the Enigma Theme’s opening six measures. The number 19 is the day the Enigma Variations premiered in June 1899. There are also 19 measures that form the entirety of the Enigma Theme. It is a common error to presume the Enigma Theme is confined to its first six bars with the most recent iteration posited by composer Ed Newton-Rex. In My Friends Pictured Within published by Novello in 1947, Elgar explicitly states concerning Variation I, “There is no break between the theme and this movement.” Variation I begins in measure 20. Elgar’s straightforward statement makes plain the Enigma Theme concludes in bar 19 which has a double bar line separating it from the beginning of the first Variation. Any proposed melodic solution that fails to take into account the Enigma Theme’s correct length may be confidently dismissed as incomplete and inconsequential.
The Enigma Theme has multiple cryptograms in its opening measures with the Melodic Intervals Pi Cipher as one notable example. The letters of the performance directions in the Enigma Theme’s first bar are an acrostic anagram for EE’s Psalm. There is a brilliant Music Box Cipher in the Enigma Theme’s opening six measures that encrypts Elgar’s “dark saying” mentioned in the original 1899 program note. The discovery of multiple ciphers within the Enigma Theme’s opening measures raises the prospect of multiple cryptograms in the opening bars of the Andante sketch.
An elementary cipher is based on a number-to-letter key in which a number is converted into its corresponding letter of the alphabet. With this basic transposition formula, 1 becomes a, 2 becomes b, 3 becomes c and so forth. The number of written notes per bar may be added up for the separate treble and bass staffs to assess the presence of just such a cryptogram. The sums of the notes of the treble staff in bars 1 through 3 are 2, 5, and 6 respectively. When these figures are converted into letters using a number-to-letter key, they become B, E, and F. This is the reverse of FEb written twice on the cover of the Enigma Variations Master Score, and again on the last pages of the original ending and the extended Finale. Those three letters are an anagram of the initials for the covert Theme (Ein feste Burg).

The bass and treble notehead totals in bar 1 may be combined to produce 12. There are twelve letters in Ein feste Burg. In bar 2 the total noteheads in the bass and treble staves may be paired together to create 15. There are fifteen movements in the Enigma Variations. The bass and treble note totals in bar 3 may be merged to produce 36. The opus number of the Enigma Variations is 36, the same number of written sounding notes in the Andante sketch. The bass and treble note totals in bars 4 through 6 may be merged to produce 46, a number with a coded emphasis in the Enigma Variations. The title of the covert Theme comes from Psalm 46. These precise numeric correlates between the Andante sketch and the Enigma Variations are so remote as to preclude the possibility of a random origin. Mounting evidence affirms that Elgar’s Andante sketch is an elaborate music cryptogram linked to his Enigma Variations, and yet there is still more to this unfolding puzzle.
At the conclusion of the Andante sketch, Elgar strangely crossed the c instead of the t in etc. This is a revealing anomaly because the letter c is a homophone for sea. A four-note fragment from Felix Mendelssohn’s concert overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is cited four times in Variation XIII to sonically portray a sea crossing. The melodic range between these four fragments encompasses a major sixth between the first and highest note (C) and the last and lowest note (E-flat). The opening two Mendelssohn fragments in A-flat major begin with a C tied over the bar line to another C, a clever wordplay on sea tide that ingeniously intersects with Mendelssohn’s symphonic depiction of Goethe’s poetry. All four Mendelssohn fragments begin and end with two tied notes, and it is astonishing no one previously detected Elgar's aquatic jape. The progressive rise and fall of the Andante’s canonic subject are evocative of the rise and fall of the tides. Another coded reference to Variation XIII is provided by the first two notes of the canonic subject, E-flat followed by a rising major 3rd to a G. The scale degrees of those two notes are 1 and 3 respectively. When paired together, they form the number thirteen.
With the cross of the t positioned over the c rather than through the t, the first two letters in etc look like el, a phonetic rendering of the letter L. That is remarkable because Elgar identified the earliest sketch of Variation XIII with a capital L. In Hebrew, El means Lord or God. With El meaning God and c as a homophone of see, one prospective decryption of Elgar’s apparently jumbled etc is “See God.” In September 1868, Father Waterworth of St. George’s Church gave Elgar a pious etching that he retained for the remainder of his life. On one side Father Waterworth cites the sixth Beatitude of Jesus from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” The first three letters from beatitude occur in order within the E-flat major key signature of the Andante sketch: B-flat, E-flat, and A-flat.
The long flat wavy line following the trill abbreviation (tr) is redolent of a calm sea. When arranged for string quartet, that trill figure is performed by the cello on the C string. The relative minor of E-flat major is also C. The dynamic pianissimo imbues the Andante sketch with an aura of tranquility. A marine atmosphere is the defining characteristic of Variation XIII imparted by repeated quotations of a melodic fragment from Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. These quotations are accompanied by a metallic drone on the timpani indicated by the same trill symbol followed by a long wavy line. The dynamic level for the first quotation performed by a solo clarinet (pianissimo) is a precise match for that shown on the Andante sketch. The third Mendelssohn quotation is in E-flat major, the same key as the Andante sketch. The time signatures for Variation XIII and the Andante sketch are identical at three quarter beats per bar.

The parallels between Variation XIII and the Andante sketch extend much deeper as the bulk of the canonic subject is a mashup of discernible two-note segments from the Mendelssohn quotations. These large slices of the Mendelssohn quotations first arise in the canonic subject with the opening two notes of the A-flat major Mendelssohn quotation, C and B-flat. These appear in order as the third and fourth notes of the canonic subject, and again as the ninth and tenth. The seventh and eighth notes (A-flat and G) of the canonic subject are the opening two notes of the F minor Mendelssohn fragment. The two E-flats shown as a dotted rhythm are a diminution of the two last notes of the E-flat major Mendelssohn quotation. These are the fifth, sixth, eleventh, and twelfth notes of the complete canonic subject.

The first two notes of the A-flat Mendelssohn quotation are C and B-flat. These two notes appear consecutively four times within the three-voice canon in measures 2 through 6. C and B-flat are the second and third written pitches for the solo B-flat clarinet that performs the A-flat major quotations a whole step lower in concert pitch. The first two notes of the F minor adaption are A-flat and G. These appear consecutively four times within the three-voice canon in measures 4 through 6. The dual E-flats with their distinctive dotted rhythm form a two-note segment from the E-flat major Mendelssohn fragment. Like and A-flat and F minor segments, these also appear four times within the Andante sketch. Two consecutive E-flats transparently encode Edward Elgar’s initials. Elgar incorporated his initials within numerous cryptograms in the Enigma Variations, a practice he revisits in the Andante Sketch Ciphers.
The numbers four and six are important because the covert Theme's title comes from Psalm 46. As observed with the two-note A-flat fragment, there are four of these two-note F minor segments in the six-bar sketch. Four segments over six bars is a coded reference to 46. Each Mendelssohn fragment has four sounding notes, but there are actually six written notes per fragment. The sums of the sounding (4) and written notes (6) of the Mendelssohn fragments are a coded allusion to 46. There are four Mendelssohn fragments that span a melodic major sixth, providing yet another coded allusion to 46. The E-flat segment surfaces in bars 3 through 6. The opus number of the Enigma Variations is 36, and there are 36 written sounding notes in the Andante sketch. Like the other segments, there are four of these two-note E-flat segments in the six-bar sketch.
In all, there are twelve two-note segments in bars 2 through 6 of Elgar's three-voice canon assembled from the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII. The numbers twelve and three are significant because there are twelve letters in the common three-word title of the covert Theme. The figures six and 24 are equally important because there are 24 letters in the complete six-word title of the secretive melody. The consecutive rhythms of the A-flat segment (quarter, quarter tied over the bar line to a dotted eighth) and E-flat segment (sixteenth followed by a half tied over the bar line to a quarter) closely mirrors the rhythmic contours of the Mendelssohn quotation (quarter tied over the bar line to a quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, and quarter tied to an eighth). Although not an exact match, it is a close rhythmic twin of the original Mendelssohn fragment.

Except for its opening two notes, the canonic subject is fashioned from twelve two-note segments from the four-note Mendelssohn fragments in the contrasting keys of A-flat major, F minor, and E-flat major. The prominence of the numbers two and four in this context is readily associated with the day (24) and year (24) on the Andante sketch. That also happens to be the total letters in the complete six-word title of the covert Theme, and the identical number of melody notes in the Enigma Theme's opening six bars. The retrograde mapping of Ein feste Burg over the Enigma Theme confirmed the source melody is a cunning combination of phrases lifted from three versions of the covert Theme: Luther's original, and those by Bach and Mendelssohn. Elgar's construction of the canonic subject based on two-note segments from three versions of the Mendelssohn fragments replicates this technique on a smaller but meaningful scale.
Elgar's coded emphasis on these Mendelssohn fragments in his Andante sketch directs one where to search for the answers to his Enigma Variations. The conventional wisdom had long held the Mendelssohn fragments are extraneous to the Enigma Variations. Far from being unrelated, those foreign fragments conceal a rich cache of cryptograms that disclose the covert Theme and the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. These incredible cipher discoveries should come as no surprise as Elgar was an expert cryptographer. The Mendelssohn fragments harbor or form a part of seventeen distinct cryptograms that encode a mutually consistent set of interlocking answers.
Variation IX is the only movement from the Enigma Variations that shares the same key and time signature as the Andante sketch. Moreover, the two notes of the canonic subject (E-flat and G) in the first measure are the reverse of Nimrod's melody from its first bar (G and E-flat). There is a pronounced emphasis on the number three in the Andante sketch with three beats per bar and three flats in its key signature. There are precisely three whole rests in the first two bars of this three-voice canon. The opening melodic interval is a third, and it appears only three times in the six-bar sketch. Elgar's coded emphasis of this number is remarkable because Variation IX begins at Rehearsal 33 (a mirror inversion of Elgar's initials) where the tuning of the timpani (E-flat, B-flat, F) encodes the initials for the covert Theme, Ein feste Burg.
The unmasking of so many coded connections between the Enigma Variations and the recently discovered Andante sketch projects a new layer of significance for Elgar’s gift to Barnardo’s matron, Lydia Tabb. His choice of recipients for his unique Andante sketch proves to be a profoundly symbolic gesture. The British charity Barnardo’s was founded by Thomas John Barnardo, the son of a Lutheran exile who emigrated from Hamburg to Ireland. The Barnardo family traces its history to Venice with a conversion to the Lutheran Church in the sixteenth century. Dr. Barnardo’s Lutheran faith is linked to the covert Theme of the Enigma Variations because Martin Luther composed Ein feste Burg between 1527 and 1529. The Mendelssohn fragments cited in Variation XIII also establish this same link because Mendelssohn was baptized a Lutheran. Those who insist that Elgar, a Roman Catholic, would never consider a Lutheran melody due to his Roman Catholicism fail to appreciate that Mendelssohn was a Protestant from his youth.
Dr. Barnardo studied medicine in London during the year 1866 with the goal of becoming a Lutheran missionary to China. Although never graduating from medical school, Barnardo adopted the title of doctor and later secured a licentiate. After being appointed superintendent of a free school for poor children in the East End of London, he established a juvenile mission in 1867. By 1870, he founded the first of what would eventually grow to 90 “Dr. Barnardo’s Homes” for orphaned boys and girls. In 1899, Dr. Barnardo’s homes were chartered as the National Incorporated Association for the Reclamation of Destitute Waif Children. That was the same year as the premiere of Elgar’s iconic Enigma Variations. To learn more concerning the innermost secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.

About Mr. Padgett

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Mr. Padgett studied violin with Michael Rosenker (a student of Leopold Auer), and Rosenker’s pupil, Owen Dunsford. Mr. Padgett studied piano with Sally Magee (a student of Emanuel Bay), and Blanca Uribe, a student of Rosina Lhévinne. He attended the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in psychology. At Vassar he studied music theory and composition with Richard Wilson. Mr. Padgett has performed for Joseph Silverstein, Van Cliburn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Steve Jobs, Prince Charles, Lady Camilla, Marcia Davenport, William F. Buckley, Jr., and other prominent public figures. His original compositions have been performed by the Monterey Symphony, at the Bohemian Grove, the Bohemian Club, and other private and public venues. In 2008 Mr. Padgett won the Max Bragado-Darman Fanfare Competition with his entry "Fanfare for the Eagles." It was premiered by the Monterey Symphony under Maestro Bragado in May 2008. A member of the Elgar Society, Mr. Padgett is married with five children.