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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Variation XIII and Elgar’s Knight George

“I am afraid the schools will prove the very gates of Hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”
February 23 marks the 80th anniversary of Edward Elgar’s death. In July 1904 he was knighted by King Edward VII for his considerable contributions to English music. There is something deeply noble and chivalrous about Elgar’s music, so it comes as no surprise his Enigma Variations make direct and indirect references to certain knights like Richard Grenville, Godfrey of Bouillon, Geoffroi de Charny, and General Gordon. These valiant men refused to surrender against overwhelming odds, some triumphing in victory while others falling in battle and living on as legends. Now one more unlikely knight may be added to that imposing list: Knight George.
Who is Knight George, and how does Elgar make reference to him? In Variation XIII Elgar pinpoints the letters for a well-known music cryptogram, FAE. He accomplishes this cryptographic feat using the key letters of the Mendelssohn fragments: F minor, A-flat major, and E-flat major. The initials FAE are a code for the German phrase Frei aber einsam which means ‘Free but lonely.’  This was the personal motto of Joseph Joachim, one of the most celebrated violin soloists of the nineteenth century and a protégé of Mendelssohn who toured with him in England. The phrase ‘Free but lonely’ echoes what Elgar wrote regarding the haunting Enigma Theme. He explained it ‘expressed when written (in 1898) my sense of the loneliness of the artist.’

Joseph Joachim

The initials for Joseph Joachim (J.J.) match those for Junker Jörg, the German title for Knight George. After Martin Luther was condemned to death at the Diet of Worms, Frederick the Wise of Saxony arranged for him to be abducted and placed into hiding at Wartburg Castle. To conceal his identity, Luther grew a beard, exchanged his monk’s habit for the fine clothing of a nobleman, and adopted the alias Junker Jörg. As a sign of his faith, Bach wrote the initials J.J. on his scores to denote Jesu Juva (Jesus help me). Elgar's coded reference to Joseph Joachim would appear to emulate Bach's practice. It certainly implicates the unknown friend's actual identity.
There are a numerous reasons for interpreting Joachim’s initials as a code for Luther’s famous alias. The Enigma Variations harbor overt and covert references to various knights, and Luther assumed the guise of a knight while in hiding. In the original 1899 program note Elgar explained the Variations contain a ‘dark saying.’ Another word for dark is night, and that sounds like knight. Like Joachim, Luther hailed from Germany and was an accomplished musician and composer. Drawing a connection between Joseph Joachim’s initials to Luther’s assumed identity at Wartburg castle is further supported by the fact Joachim was a Lutheran.
The case for Martin Luther’s knightly identity is sealed by the fact Elgar originally designated Variation XIII with a solitary L. That is the initial for Luther. Elgar only later added the letters ML to produce LML. It is hardly coincidental the letters ML are the initials for Martin Luther. Elgar cleverly hid Luther’s initials behind Joachim’s relying on a well known alias, but was careful to include Luther’s original initials in his sketches starting with L (Luther) and later adding ML (Martin Luther). Ultimately the FAE Cipher is like a fortress, concealing Luther’s identity behind another famous German musician’s name. Joachim's Lutheranism is merely icing on the cake.



It is not surprising Elgar would work in a coded reference to one of the nineteenth century’s greatest violinists within the Enigma Variations. In his youth Elgar desperately wanted to be a great violin soloist like Joachim. In Variation XIII he even goes so far as to quote the music of Joachim’s mentor, Mendelssohn. Joachim was likened to a priest by his pupil Leopold Auer who said, “"I always felt as though he were a priest, thrilling his congregation with a sermon revealing the noblest moral beauties of a theme which could not help but interest all humanity." Martin Luther was also a priest and the composer of Ein feste Burg who ardently defended the faith against the corrupting influences of a worldly church. Similar to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, Joachim penned a manifesto with Brahms in 1860 condemning the progressive music of the New German School then championed by Wagner.
Why would Elgar interleave a coded reference in Variation XIII to Martin Luther’s assumed identity as Knight George when he hid out at Wartburg Castle? Wartburg Castle is a mighty fortress, and the covert Principal Theme to the Enigma Variations is Luther’s Ein feste Burg. That Elgar did so using four Mendelssohn fragments in three contrasting keys is supremely inspired because Mendelssohn quotes Ein feste Burg in the fourth movement of his first extended symphonic work, the Reformation Symphony. The numerological parallel is difficult to ignore. Elgar's first extended symphonic work was the Enigma Variations. What an elaborate tapestry of interlocking clues!
Not only does the coded reference to Joachim aid in unmasking the composer of covert Principal Theme, it also reveals the name of Elgar’s secret friend. How? Like Luther and Elgar, Joachim’s faith was resolutely placed in Jesus Christ whose initials are encoded by the Roman numerals XIII. X stands for the number 10, and the tenth letter in the alphabet is J. III represents 3, and the third letter is C.  There is another less obvious link between Joachim and Elgar’s not-so-secret friend. In 1891 Joachim was granted the supreme privilege of playing the Messiah Stradivarius, a fabled instrument now under glass at the Ashmolean Museum. It should be noted Joachim’s first name – Joseph – is the same as Mary’s husband, the step-father of Jesus. It is also a match for the eminent son of Jacob, the dreamer who prefigured Christ.

The Second Coming of Christ

Knowing the identity of Elgar’s secret friend, it would be a profound oversight not to mention that Knight of Knights, Jesus Christ himself. In Revelation 19 he mounts a white charger and leads the armies of Heaven to victory at the battle of Armageddon, liberating Jerusalem from Satanic occupation. Tasso poetically alludes to this historic confrontation between good and evil in Jerusalem Delivered, an epic Christian poem Elgar paraphrases at the end of the original score of the Enigma Variations. To learn more about the secrets behind one of Elgar’s most celebrated symphonic achievements, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Elgar’s Music Anagram Cipher

 
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

The conventional wisdom has long maintained the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII are extraneous to Elgar’s thematic enigma. That impression seems justified as the Mendelssohn quotations originate from an entirely different work. However, a careful study of those fragments confirms the conventional wisdom overlooks an important key to resolving the Enigma Variations. Years of research have uncovered six cryptograms encased within those fragments:
1.       FAE Cipher
2.      Fragments Cipher
3.      Mendelssohn Cipher
4.      FACE Cipher
5.      Romanza Cipher
These ciphers are critically important because they answer key questions about the Enigma Variations concerning the covert Principal Theme and the secret friend. Now a seventh cipher has been found nestled among two of the four Mendelssohn fragments, one in the form of a music anagram. In standard practice, an anagram is composed of a word or phrase created by the transposition of another word or phrase. For instance, the letters from debit card may be reshuffled to spell bad credit. The same can be done with the notes from a musical phrase in which one melody is constructed from those of another. This is what Elgar accomplishes with two of the three clarinet solos beginning with the Mendelssohn incipit.
The clarinet solos in A-flat major (measures 507-513) and E-flat major (measures 542-548) begin with a 3 measure fragment from Mendelssohn’s concert overture Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage). This fragment consists of 3 distinct notes (C, B-flat, and two A-flats), and is further elaborated by Elgar into a complete 7 bar solo. A careful analysis of those two clarinet solos reveals the notes are a music anagram of the concluding phrase from Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress). This is subtly hinted at by the Mendelssohn Keynotes Cipher which encodes the last three notes of that ending phrase as quoted by Mendelssohn in the fourth movement of the Reformation Symphony.


Luther’s most renowned hymn has a phrase structure of ABABCDEFB. The closing phrase is second in the sequence and is assigned the letter B. The original version of Luther’s hymn is shown below. When the discreet notes of the A-flat major and E-flat major clarinet solos are treated as an anagram (discounting the repeated note in each Mendelssohn fragment), they may be reshuffled to construct Luther’s original ending phrase from Ein feste Burg.


As previously mentioned, the phrase structure of Ein feste Burg is ABABCDEFB. In a remarkable twist, the last three letters (EFB) are the initials for Ein feste Burg. Multiple ciphers found in the Enigma Variations encode those initials, but do so starting with the last letter (B) first. These include the Keys, Mendelssohn, and Letter Cluster ciphers. By repeatedly encoding the initials for the covert Principal Theme backwards, Elgar ingeniously intimates his enigmatic counterpoint starts with the hidden melody’s ending phrase. Putting the proverbial cart before the horse is also hinted at by the unusual title of the Theme – Enigma. The first letter is a capital E which resembles the lower case of omega. The last letter is a, the lower case of alpha. In the title Enigma the omega (E) symbolically precedes the alpha (a), hinting the end precedes the beginning. The quotation at the conclusion of expanded Finale further hints at Elgar’s ploy of starting his enigmatic counterpoint using the Principal Theme’s end phrase.  He paraphrases in two six-word phrases a passage penned by Longfellow, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art of ending.” The end is greater than the beginning, meaning it should be granted precedence.
Elgar places a special emphasis on the ending phrase of Ein feste Burg­ in the score of the Enigma Variations. It is stated virtually verbatim at Rehearsal 66, and twice by the inner voice in Dora Penny’s movement, Variation X. No wonder he goaded Dora on by saying, “I thought that you, of all people, would guess it.” Among the Variations, her movement most clearly presents the end phrase not once, but twice. If only she had searched for the tune’s conclusion rather than its beginning, perhaps then she would have discovered the answer. The last three notes of the concluding phrase are given by the Mendelssohn Keynotes Cipher. Now it is also known the complete ending phrase from Ein feste Burg is encoded as a musical anagram by the clarinet solos in A-flat and E-flat major, both of which begin with Mendelssohn incipits.
The process of mapping Ein feste Burg over the Enigma Theme revealed Elgar began his counterpoint with the closing phrase, and contrary to all expectations, ending it with the opening one. That is an exceptionally wily tactic, one prone to throw off investigators stubbornly intent on mapping prospective tunes from their beginnings. In the documentary Elgar’s Enigma: A Hidden Portrait, Sir Andrew Davis takes the bait hook, line and sinker when he performs prospective tunes from their beginnings over the opening of the Enigma Theme. Dr. Clive McClelland is another thrown off track by Elgar’s contrapuntal ruse. Patrick Turner also falls prey to it. Starting the counterpoint with Ein feste Burg’s closing phrase is the last thing anyone would expect, except perhaps for a church organist who routinely introduced hymns by performing their endings first. Like his father, Elgar served as a church organist at St. George’s Church.
Why would Elgar encode the tail-end of the concluding phrase from Ein feste Burg rather than its beginning? It would certainly be the last thing one would expect (pun intended), and that is undoubtedly what Elgar anticipated. When scouring for clues of a missing melody, the natural tendency is to search for signs of a beginning rather than an ending. Apart from Ein feste Burg, all other purported melodic solutions to the Enigma Theme reflect this deeply entrenched prejudice. Elgar was undoubtedly relying on that innate inclination when openly concealing evidence for the covert Principal Theme. To learn more about the secrets behind one of Elgar’s most celebrated symphonic achievements, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Mendelssohn Keynotes Cipher

Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending.”
Elgar quoting Longfellow

The Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII of Elgar’s Enigma Variations are a rich fishing ground for ciphers. Years of trawling those perplexing fragments netted the following cryptograms:
1.       FAE Cipher
2.      Fragments Cipher
3.      Mendelssohn Cipher
4.      FACE Cipher
5.      Romanza Cipher
Now further fishing has reeled in yet another cipher submerged within the Mendelssohn fragments – the Keynotes Cipher. This other code relies on the order of the keynotes for the Mendelssohn fragments drawn from the concert overture Meeresstille und glücklicheFahrt. In Variation XIII those puzzling fragments (long thought by so-called ‘experts’ to be extraneous to the enigma) appear in the order of A-flat, F, and E-flat. What makes that keynote sequence so remarkable is it forms the tail-end of the closing phrase from Ein feste Burg as quoted by Mendelssohn in the fourth movement of the Reformation Symphony. The Keynotes Cipher is the tail of a much bigger fish, a famous melody quoted indirectly by Elgar throughout the Enigma Variations. There is yet another fish encoded in the Enigma Theme, one pointing to a timeless Christogram.


Composed in the key of G major, the fourth movement of the Reformation Symphony is a set of variations on Luther’s Ein feste Burg.  It opens with a statement of Luther's heroic hymn on his principal instrument, the flute. In measure 5 the ending phrase concludes for the first time with the notes C, A and G. Remarkably, the keynotes A-flat, F, and E-flat are each a major third below C, A and G respectively. The keynotes of the Mendelssohn fragments are a mirror image of the covert Principal Theme in the key of E-flat major. Once recognized and pulled, that melodic thread unravels the mystery of Elgar’s enigmatic melody.
There are stark contrasts and elegant parallels between the Keynotes Cipher and the Mendelssohn fragments. The end fragment of Ein feste Burg is encoded by a set of musical fragments drawn from the beginning of a theme from Mendelssohn’s Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt. Notice also that the original titles of both works are in German. There are also intriguing parallels between Mendelssohn and Luther. Mendelssohn was baptized as a Lutheran in 1816, a faith spearheaded by Martin Luther. Moreover, Mendelssohn and Luther were musicians who shared the gospel through their original compositions.
Last Things First
The Keynotes Cipher is not an isolated instance of coding in reverse. Elgar places a special emphasis on the ending phrase of Ein feste Burg­ within the score of the Enigma Variations. It is stated practically verbatim at Rehearsal 66, and twice by the inner voice in Dora Penny’s movement, Variation X. No wonder he goaded Dora on by saying, “I thought that you, of all people, would guess it.” Among the Variations, her movement most clearly presents the end phrase not once, but twice. If only she had searched for the tune’s conclusion rather than its beginning, perhaps then she would have discovered the answer.
The process of mapping Ein feste Burg over the Enigma Theme revealed Elgar began his counterpoint with the closing phrase, and contrary to all expectations, ended it with the more recognizable opening phrase. That is an exceptionally wily tactic, one prone to throw off investigators stubbornly intent on mapping prospective tunes from their beginnings. In the documentary Elgar’s Enigma: A Hidden Portrait, Conductor Sir Andrew Davis takes the bait hook, line and sinker when he performs prospective tunes from their beginnings over the opening of the Enigma Theme. Dr. Clive McClelland is another thrown off track by Elgar’s contrapuntal ruse. Starting the counterpoint with Ein feste Burg’s closing phrase is the last thing anyone would expect, except perhaps from a church organist who routinely introduced hymns to the congregation by performing their endings first. Like his father, Elgar served as a church organist at St. George’s Church.
Other ciphers in the Enigma Variations reflect Elgar’s penchant for working backwards, the hallmark of an exceptional contrapuntist and cryptographer. The Keys Cipher encodes Ein feste Burg’s initials (E.F.B.) starting with the last letter, B. This pattern is replicated by the Mendelssohn and Letter Cluster ciphers. Putting the proverbial cart before the horse is also hinted at by the unusual title for the Theme – Enigma. The first letter is a capital E which resembles the lower case of omega. The last letter is a which is the lower case of alpha. In the title Enigma the omega (E) precedes the alpha (a), hinting the end precedes the beginning. The quotation at the conclusion of expanded Finale further hints at Elgar’s ploy of starting his enigmatic counterpoint using the Principal Theme’s end phrase.  He paraphrases in two six-word phrases a passage penned by Longfellow, “Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art of ending.” The end is greater than the beginning, meaning it should be granted precedence.
In a letter to a friend, Elgar gave the following explanation regarding the Enigma Variations, “I’ve written the variations each one to represent the mood of the ‘party’ – I’ve liked to imagine the ‘party’ writing the var[iation] him (or her) self and have written what I think they wd have written – if they were asses enough to compose – it’s a quant idea and the result is amusing to those behind the scene and won’t affect the hearer who ‘nose nuffin.” Asses is an interesting choice of words. A cursory explanation would be it simply implies stubbornness. A less obvious clue would be to observe that A.S.S. are the initials for A Safe Stronghold, a popular translation of Ein feste Burg by Thomas Carlyle. The word ass may refer to a rump or backside, and this investigation has shown the tail end of Ein feste Burg is quoted in various forms within the Variations. Could this be what Elgar alluded to in his correspondence by means of such coarse language?
Why would Elgar encode the tail-end of the concluding phrase from Ein feste Burg rather than its beginning? It would certainly be the last thing one would expect (pun intended), and that is undoubtedly what Elgar anticipated. When scouring for clues of a missing melody, the natural tendency is to search for signs of a beginning rather than an ending. Apart from Ein feste Burg, all other purported melodic solutions to the Enigma Theme reflect this deeply ingrained prejudice. Elgar was undoubtedly relying on that innate inclination when openly concealing evidence for the covert Principal Theme. Little wonder Elgar wrote at the end of the revised Finale, "Great is the art of beginning, but greater the art is of ending." The end is the key to the beginning. To learn more about the secrets behind one of Elgar’s most celebrated symphonic achievements, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Elgar's 515 Ciphers

The word enigma appears only once in all of Dante’s Divine Comedy, in the last canto of the Purgatorio, where Beatrice devises an “enigma forte” for Dante the pilgrim to ponder. To this day, it has not been solved conclusively. Dante the poet modeled it on the riddles of the Apocalypse, notably the number of the Beast, 666 (Rev. 13: 18). He set it in a prophetic speech where Beatrice borrows language from that most enigmatic biblical book.

Elgar’s makes multiple veiled allusions to Dante’s Divine Comedy in the Enigma Variations. One of the more profound examples centers on coded references to Dante’s enigma forte, the mysterious number "Five Hundred, Ten and Five." The majority of these are found in Variation XIII. That movement begins with the melody played by the first clarinet, and an accompaniment figure performed by the second violins and cellos. The original score identifies these instrumental staves in Italian as Clarenetti, Violini and Violincelli.


The Roman numeral values of the first letters of those Italian terms are 100 for C, and 5 for V. Converting the first letters into their Roman numeral equivalents form a coded reference to Dante’s enigma forte, the fabled number 515.
V = 5
C = 100
V = 5
This is not the only coded reference to Dante’s mystical number. Rehearsal Number 55 marks the opening of Variation XIII just above both the Flute I and Violin I staves. The pairing of Rehearsal Number 55 with the instrument number (I) provide two additional coded references to 515. The Roman numeral I for the violin part even appears just between the two fives of the rehearsal number. Rehearsal 55 is assigned to the first measure of Variation XIII, creating yet another coded version of 515. The tempo marking Moderato appears just below Rehearsal 55. The Roman numeral value of M is 1000. By dispensing with the zeros, the pairing of M with 55 permits yet another coded reference to 515.


These cryptic allusions to 515 in Variation XIII are not coincidental. The twenty-first measure of Variation XIII is assigned Rehearsal Number 57, and it is measure 515 of the Enigma Variations. The appearance of that measure number in Variation XIII reinforces the conclusion Elgar’s other coded references to 515 were calculated. It is remarkable that Variation XIII is 51 measures in length. The concluding melody note in the Clarinet I part is D, the fifth of the G major scale. Pairing the fifty-first measure with the fifth of the G major scale encodes yet another 515.


On the original sketch Elgar identified Variation XIII with a capital L. In latter life he appended it with the letters ML to form LML. By excluding the extra zeros, the Roman numeral conversion of LML just so happens to produce 515.
L = 50
M = 1000
L = 50
Besides augmenting the arsenal of the 515 Ciphers, the addition of ML to the original L also hints at the initials for the composer of the covert Principal Theme: Martin Luther.
It has been observed Elgar encodes the number 515 in various forms at the beginning and end of Variation XIII.  As a final tribute to that special number, he does so two more times in the title for Variation XIV E.D.U. Combining XIV with Elgar’s German initials (E.D.U. from Eduard) permit the formation of DUX and EIV. In Latin the word dux means leader, a character trait of Dante’s prophesied Savior. The letters U and V are equivalent in Latin, so the Roman numeral value of DUX as DXV is 515. The three remaining letters – EIV – are yet another coded version of 515 because E is the fifth letter in the alphabet, I is the Roman numeral for 1, and V for 5. 
The number 515 is a biblical number associated with Noah's Ark which measured 515 feet from bow to stern, and was 51.5 feet high. That special ship is a symbol of God's salvation because it preserved Noah's family and a remnant of terrestrial life from a devastating global flood. In Genesis 6:14 God commanded Noah to build an ark and cover it inside and out with pitch. In a remarkably parallel, Elgar's ship in Variation XIII is portrayed with musical pitches. Like Elgar's ship, Noah's Ark traveled the sea in search of dry land before safely resting on the Mountains of Ararat. In that account the sea serves as a potent symbol of God's judgment. The ocean is closely associated with Jesus. He walked on the Sea of Galilee, calmed the winds and the waves, and even preached from a boat. The Fish is a popular Christogram because Jesus likened his death and resurrection to the Sign of Jonah. After spending three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, Jonah was spit out onto dry land. In a similar manner, Jesus spent three days and nights in the belly of the earth – the grave – before rising miraculously from the dead.
DEAD G-D Cipher
With so many coded references to Dante’s 515, it is conceivable Elgar is floating his own solution to Dante’s difficult enigma. Variation XIII captures the deathly stillness of the sea described by Goethe in his poems Meeresstille and Glückliche Fahrt. These poems were the inspiration behind Mendelssohn’s concert overture quoted by Elgar. Buried in the lowest staff of the score, the bass section plays the notes D-E-A-D in measures 498 and 499, and again in 533 and 534. Incredibly, the bass part literally spells out what Elgar sonically portrays with the Mendelssohn fragments.
But who is dead? The answer is given using the same enciphering method by the flute, oboe and clarinet in the measures that immediately follow the bass part. In measures 500, the first flute and oboe play the notes G and D, and these are repeated by the clarinet in bar 501. This same pattern is revived in measures 535 and 536. Elgar’s answer to the question of who is dead is G-D, a phonetic version of God. Three repetitions of the notes G-D suggest the Trinity. Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith leaves only one credible candidate for a God who died, and his name is implicated by the XIII and Romanza ciphers: Jesus Christ. Elgar raises a question by encoding the word DEAD in the lowest part of the score, and then answers it in the three highest staves with three codes references to G-D. With so many coded references to the number 515 in Variation XIII, Elgar is cryptically offering Jesus Christ as the ultimate solution to Dante’s enigma forte. It is truly remarkable Elgar answers Dante’s difficult enigma with one uniquely his own and reflective of their mutual faith.



To learn more about the secrets behind one of Elgar’s most celebrated symphonic achievements, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Enigma Theme's Hidden God


“Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”

“He [God] has willed to make himself quite recognizable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and to be hidden from those who flee from Him with all their heart. He so regulates the knowledge of Himself that He has given signs of Himself, visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition.”

Elgar dedicated the majority of his major works to God as a public testimony to his Roman Catholic faith. He invariably did so by writing the initials A.M.D.G., an abbreviation of the Jesuit motto Ad Majorem Dei Glorium. The Jesuits founded the Society of Jesus, serving as evangelists for the Roman Catholic Church. An excellent example of Elgar’s devotion is displayed on the cover of his sacred oratorio The Dream of Gerontius composed shortly after the Enigma Variations. While he openly dedicated the Enigma Variations “To my friends pictured within,” Elgar left the identity of at least one of those friends a mystery. All are identified by their initials, names or nicknames with one lone exception. The friend portrayed in Variation XIII is ostensibly represented by three asterisks (***). Is it possible Elgar inserted a secret dedication to God in the score by means of one of his favorite diversions, cryptography? If so, one would expect to find such a dedication at the beginning.


The A.M.D.G. Cipher
Are any of the letters from A.M.D.G. present in the first measure of the Enigma Theme? The original orchestral score has seven discreet notes in measure 1: A, B-flat, C, D, F-sharp and G. Three of those notes appear three times each: A, D and G. Three notes three times in one measure are highly suggestive of the number 33, the mirror image of Edward Elgar's initials. In a remarkable coincidence, those three note letters are found in the Jesuit acronym A.M.D.G. Together they form the initials A.D.G. Based on Elgar’s characteristic dedication, that acronym may be reasonably interpreted as Ad Dei Gloriam – “Glory to God.” The only missing letter from the Jesuit acronym is M, one not found in the seven-letter musical alphabet. How could Elgar have conceivably encoded it? The answer is by Morse Code. Elgar studied Morse Code, adopting the palindrome Siromoris as his telegraphic address. The rhythmic pattern of the Enigma Theme on beats 3 and 4 consists of two quarter notes. In Morse code those two quarter notes are the equivalent of two dashes, the sequence for M. The case can reasonable be made Elgar encoded a stealth dedication to God in the Enigma Theme’s opening measure using his preferred abbreviation A.M.D.G. Three of the four letters are represented by three notes each stated three times (A, D and G), and the M is encoded in Morse Code by two quarter notes on beats 3 and 4. This stealth dedication is known as the A.M.D.G. Cipher.


Elgar’s Other God Allusions
Elgar’s covert dedication is hardly an isolated gesture to the hidden God of his Christian faith. There are many other coded references to the Deus absconditus within the Enigma Theme. That unforgettable movement begins on a G minor chord. That is an intriguing choice of harmony because G is the seventh and final letter in the musical alphabet, and seven is the divine number. As previously observed in measure 1, there are seven discreet note types with seven different performance directions. That comes to at least three distinct sevens in the first measure. The two lowest notes of that first G minor chord are G and D, the phonetic equivalent of God. The interval formed between them is a compound fifth, also known as a thirteenth. That number is associated with Jesus since he is the subject of Variation XIII. It is also linked to him because he washed the feet of his twelve disciples like a common servant at the Last Supper as described in John 13. By lowering himself before his disciples, Jesus made himself last – the thirteenth – among them.
The G minor chord supplies G and D, a phonetic spelling for God. The missing O is implied in a roundabout manner by the mathematical constant Pi encoded in measure 1. Without beginning or end, the circle symbolizes eternity, one of the infinite attributes of God. Combining G and D with the circular letter O permits the complete spelling of God. The spiritual foundation of the Enigma Theme is literally spelled out in measure 1, a number at the heart of monotheism, the belief in one God. Little wonder Elgar inserted a secret dedication to God in that measure. The G minor chord repeats on the first beats of measures 2 and 3, and only breaks the pattern in measure 4 with a diminished seventh chord on B. The triple repetition of the G minor chord on the first beats of the first three measures suggests the Trinity, the belief in the triune God.


As described by the prophet Isaiah and Blaise Pascal, God conceals himself from humanity because Adam and Eve first hid themselves from him in the Garden of Eden. In a figurative and imitative fashion, Elgar’s God hides himself in the Enigma Theme. There are at least 24 coded references to God in the Enigma Theme based on musical note patterns. That is an interesting total since prior research shows the number 24 is itself encoded 33 times in the Enigma Theme, again based on musical note patterns. The bass line in measures 7 and 8 is a sustained G falling to a sustained D in measures 9 and 10 held for seven quarter beats. This is one example of a coded reference to God. Confirmation of this interpretation is found in measures 8 and 9 where the melody line consists of a series of falling fifths in the second violin part from E, A to D. These notes in reverse (DAE) are a phonetic version of Dei, the Latin word for God. This reading is supported by the fact Dei is the third word in the Jesuit motto Ad Majorum Dei Gloriam.
An abundance of hidden references to God in the Enigma Theme are complimented by other coded allusions to the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Nowhere are these God allusion’s more evident than in the Enigma Theme, an oddly structured counterpoint to a famous yet secretive Principal Theme. Research reveals that elusive melody is the epic hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by Martin Luther who drank deeply from the well of Psalm 46. In a symbolic gesture, Elgar based the Enigma Theme, and by extension the Variations, on a hidden hymn about the hidden God who also happens to be a him. Hymn sounds like him, a play on words evocative of Elgar’s distinctive brand of wordplay.  The lyrics of that rousing melody liken God to a mighty fortress, naming his son Jesus Christ in the second stanza. The words of the secret melody conveniently provide the solution for the secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII.
The connection between Elgar’s hidden theme and Luther’s famous hymn is implicated by a coded reference to the Psalms in the Enigma Theme’s opening measure. This is done by means of an anagram using the first letters of the seven performance directions found in measure 1.


The Psalms are a collection of hymns replete with references to God.  According to theologians, it also contains many important prophecies about Jesus. The Psalms Cipher solidifies the biblical scope of the Enigma, something already suggested by the scriptural names given to Variations VI (Ysobel) and IX (Nimrod). It also furnishes a vital clue about the identity of the elusive missing melody inspired by Psalm 46.
The number Pi is encoded in measures 1 and 11 of the Enigma Theme based on the scale degrees of the melody (3142). These same numbers are the fingerings for the first violin part in third position on the D string when performing that poignant phrase. Pi is a mathematical constant that captures the ratio of the circles circumference to its diameter. The circle represents God, symbolizing eternity by having no beginning or end. Building on this is the Pi-C Cipher, also in the first measure of the Enigma Theme. Pi is enciphered in measures 1 and 11 of the Enigma Theme. Three 1’s – one does not need to wonder what theological concept that suggests. The Enigma Theme is set in Common Time, a meter represented by the symbol C. The combination of Pi and C creates the phonetic equivalent of pisce, the Latin word for fish. The fish or Ichthys is a well known symbol for Jesus. C is the first letter in words like Christ, Cross, Christogram and Cipher. It is also the phonetic equivalent of sea, something Elgar sonically portrays in Variation XIII using fragments from Mendelssohn’s concert overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The Pi-C Cipher is a distinct reference to Christ, the Lord and Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith. After all, fish inhabit the sea, and one should not be surprised to find a pisce in C.
The rhythmic patterns of the Enigma Theme may be translated into Morse Code. In measure 1 the two eighth notes simulate two dots for the letter I. These are followed by two quarter notes resembling two dashes for the letter M. The Morse Code conversion for the melody in measure 1 is IM. The phonetic equivalent of IM is I am, an important phrase spoken by Jesus to describe himself. The I AM Cipher identifies a uniquely theological title used by Jesus, bolstering the conclusion he is the subject of both the Enigma Theme and Variation XIII. The Catholic belief in the Trinity asserts Jesus is a member of the Godhead, making any reference to him a reference to God. When asked by a disciple to show him the Father, Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” In Roman Catholic theology, Jesus is the incarnation of God.
Besides harboring multiple codes like the Psalms, I AM, Pi, and Pi-C Ciphers, the Enigma Theme’s first measure is part of other larger ciphers. The first six measures of the Enigma Theme are marked off by an oddly placed double-bar at the end of measure six. This six bar section encompasses two other ciphers. The first and more elementary of the two is the Locks Cipher. It encodes two sets of solution letters: LOQX and LOJC. The fist is phonetic for locks, and those, like ciphers, come with keys. The second solution set – LOJC – forms a phrase, or ‘dark saying.’ Lo means to behold, as in the phrase lo and behold. The letters JC are the initials for Jesus Christ, the secret friend of Variation XIII. In a remarkable twist, the Roman numerals for that movement encode his initials. X stands for the number ten, and the tenth letter in the alphabet is J. III represents the number three, and the third letter is C. The secret phrase revealed by the Locks Cipher (LOJC) is “Behold Jesus Christ.”
The second and more sophisticated cryptogram found in the first six measures of the Enigma Theme is a Music Box Cipher. That description is exquisitely appropriate because Elgar encodes solution letters using bass and melody note pairs to pinpoint specific cells within a checkerboard grid. This type of code is known as a Polybius Square, or more simply as a Box Cipher. Since it is a box cipher set to music, it is more accurately known as a Music Box Cipher. What an exquisite play on words! This unique code reveals twenty-four solution letters from the complete 24-letter German title of the unstated Principal Theme: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. What Elgar does is rearrange those letters into phonetic words and phrases in Latin, English and Aramaic, a language spoken by Jesus. For example, the solution letters for measure one are GSUS, a phonetic version of Jesus. To dispel doubt, Elgar authenticates his elaborate cipher by encoding his last name by means of the first letters of the languages from the cipher: English, Latin, German, and Aramaic. He uses a similar device with the Psalms Cipher by pairing his initials with the word Psalm (EE’s Psalm) via the first letters of the performance directions in measure one of the Enigma Theme.


Conclusion
This investigation revealed the first measure of the Enigma Theme harbors a stealth dedication to God, a gesture amplified and expanded on by many other coded references to God throughout rest of the movement. In addition to these are several ciphers that encode the initials, name, and fish symbol for Jesus Christ, the secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII. According to Roman Catholic theology, Jesus is a member of the Trinity, making any mention of him also a reference to God. This insight helps explain why the melody of Variation XIII begins on the notes G and D, a phonetic spelling for God. To learn more about the secrets behind 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, 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 ShriverSteve 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.