"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."
Two events from Elgar’s life reveal a tremendous amount about his character as a composer. The first occurred in 1869 when he was just twelve years old. He recalled this episode of contrapuntal mischief in these words:
I composed a little tune of which I was very proud. I thought the public should hear it, but my opportunities of publishing it were decidedly few. I took my opportunity when my father was engaged in preparing the Handel parts for the forthcoming festival. Very laboriously I introduced my little tune into the music. The thing was an astonishing success, and I heard that some people had never enjoyed Handel so much before! When my father learned of it, however, he was furious! 
It was the Three Choirs Festival, and the parts were for Handel’s sacred oratorio Messiah.
The next occurred in 1901 when Elgar was in his early 40’s and completed the overture Cockaigne. His sketchbook (Figure 1) shows he conceived of the lover’s theme as a counterpoint to the Wedding March from Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  He invoked the counterpoint because Mendelssohn’s music is closely associated with marriage, and there were concerns by some that the lovemaking depicted in his music was not “strictly proper.” This counterpoint is an example of Elgar’s practical jokes, or what he liked to call japes.
Although separated by a span of over 30 years, these two events from Elgar’s life share three commonalities:
- He composed a counterpoint to a famous melody.
- The counterpoint is presented in an orchestral context.
- The counterpoint contains elements of humor and seriousness.
Consistent with Elgar's character as a composer, all three of these elements are associated with my discovery of the unstated Principal Theme to Elgar’s Enigma Variations: Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress). Concerning the Enigma Theme, those who insist Elgar did not compose a counterpoint to a famous melody betray a profound ignorance of the composer's known history and character. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed. Like my heavenly Father’s gift of salvation, the price is free.