Sunday, February 19, 2012

Elgar’s Mendelssohn Cipher: *** = E.F.B.

The essence of beauty is unity in variety.

A growing body of research confirms the covert Principal Theme to Elgar’s Enigma Variations is the famous hymn A Mighty Fortress (Ein feste Burg) by Martin Luther. An ingenious alphanumeric cipher embedded in the Mendelssohn fragments of Variation XIII encode the initials for Ein feste Burg: E.F.B. The key to cracking this cipher is to use the number of times a given key fragment is stated to pinpoint the corresponding degree of its scale. There are eight notes in a scale, and each is numbered 1 through 8. There are four Mendelssohn fragments stated in three distinct keys: A flat major, F minor, and E flat major.

There are two Mendelssohn fragments in A flat major. The second degree of the A flat major scale is B flat. The third Mendelssohn fragment in F minor appears only once. The first degree of the F minor scale is F.  The fourth and final Mendelssohn fragment in E-flat is also played one time. The first letter in the E flat major scale is E flat. With each fragment consisting of the last three notes of the descending version of each scale, another way of approaching the decryption is to simply count the discrete note letters of a given fragment in reverse order based on the number of times a fragment is stated in a given key.

Three of the Mendelssohn fragments are enclosed in quotations because they, like the source material, are in the original major mode. The fourth fragment appears in minor and lacks quotations because it deviates from the major mode. There is another less obvious explanation for why this minor fragment lacks any quotation marks. There is a total of twelve notes enclosed in three sets of quotations, a remarkable coincidence since Ein feste Burg is also three words long and contains a total of twelve letters. Elgar's use of quotations around three of the Mendelssohn quotes serves to signal the number of words and letters in the title of the Covert Principal Theme. Elgar's allusions to various German artists (Mendelssohn, Goethe, and Joachim) further hint that the missing title's language is in German and three words long. The common title for A Mighty Fortress is Ein feste Burg. The total number of letters in the names Mendelssohn, Goethe, and Joachim is 24, the same in the full title of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. Twenty-four also happens to be the same number of notes in the opening six measures of the Enigma Theme, the very place Elgar encoded his "dark saying," an ingenious Music Box Cipher
The Mendelssohn Cipher reveals that Elgar encoded the missing initials for the covert Theme's title, sealing the case for E.F.B as the solution letters to the mysterious three asterisks. What everyone thought represented the secret friend are in reality the initials for a popular hymn that names that famous person in the second stanza. To discover the identity of his secret friend and inspiration for Variation XIII, read ***To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.


Anonymous said...

If Elgar was a devout Christian why would he choose a Lutheran theme?

SirPadgett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SirPadgett said...

Among Christian leaders Martin Luther was clearly one of the most musical and inventive, for he composed many hymns to promote the gospel message. He actively encouraged singing in the vernacular at church services, a subject near and dear to the heart of Elgar as shown by his numerous sacred cantatas and oratorios. Luther's most famous hymn - 'Ein feste Burg' - is quoted in the works of the great German masters (e.g., J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, and Richard Wagner), composers whom Elgar revered and emulated in his writing.

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.