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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Top Eleven Enigma "Solutions" Refuted



“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

Some of the most prevalent ‘solutions’ to Elgar’s Enigma Variations are listed by Wikipedia, a virtual clearinghouse of ‘peer reviewed’ theories. Could any of the following tunes be the unstated Principal Theme to the Variations?
  1. Pop goes the Weasel
  2. For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
  3. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  4. Beethoven’s Pathétique Piano Sonata
  5. Now the Day is Over
  6. Mozart’s Prague Symphony
  7. God Save the King (or Queen)
  8. Rule Britannia
  9. Dies Irae
  10. Auld Lang Syne
  11. Tallis Canon
Before being recognized as the solution, the correct melody must first satisfy six specific conditions issued by Elgar describing the special relationship between the covert Theme and the Enigma Variations. These conditions come from three primary sources: The original 1899 program note, the 1900 interview for The Musical Times, and Elgar's 1905 biographyA credible case can be made if and only if it can be shown a candidate melody effectively satisfies all six conditions. Secured directly from Elgar’s recorded words by multiple, independent, unimpeachable sources, those six conditions are:
  1. The Enigma Theme is a counterpoint to the principal Theme.
  2. The principal Theme is not heard.
  3. The principal Theme is famous.
  4. Fragments of the principal Theme are present in the Variations.
  5. The principal Theme is a melody that can be played through and over the whole set of Variations including the entire Enigma Theme.
  6. The Enigma Theme comprises measures 1 through 19.
Any theme that violates just one of those six conditions must be ruled out as invalid.  The first and foremost test is to play a candidate melody “through and over” the Enigma Theme to assess whether there is credible evidence for both a contrapuntal and horizontal fit. Before attempting such a mapping it is first necessary to adapt a prospective melody to mirror the Enigma Theme’s shifts between the major and minor modes of G. These modulations are necessitated by the structure of the Enigma Theme which opens in G minor (measures 1-6), continues in G major (measures 7-10), returns to G minor (measure 11-16), cadences in G major (measure 17), and modulates back to G minor in the bridge leading to Variation I measures 18-19). Even when granting these generous accommodations to facilitate a contrapuntal mapping, the top eleven "solutions" fail abysmally.

Top Eleven Solutions to Elgar’s Enigma Theme
Theme
Audio
Length
Harmony
Counterpoint
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible
Short
Dissonant
Incompatible

So much for Wikipedia’s staid reliance on the "peer review" process, an abject travesty that places all the emphasis on peer and nothing on review. In post-modern academia "peer review" has become a euphemism for straining out a gnat to drink a camel. Such a desperate condition was diagnosed long ago by Allan Bloom who warned, “Reason transformed into prejudice is the worst form of prejudice, because reason is the only instrument for liberation from prejudice.” Academics have grown far too comfortable with their pet theories to permit any light to chase away the darkness of their shrinking and shriveled intellects. Their unchanging mantra is to publish or perish. Predictably they publish, and just as predictably the truth perishes. Yet in the end, who needs them? With Google, Blogger and YouTube serving as a virtual ten-pound sledgehammer, one may apply the necessary force to obliterate these obsolete theories propped up by the "peer review’" process...and Wikipedia.
The only Theme to successfully satisfy all six of Elgar’s conditions is Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by Martin LutherA precise vertical and horizontal alignment between the two melodies is realized by Elgar's sophisticated treatment of Ein feste Burg as a retrograde counterpoint in an augmented form. Such an unconventional approach accounts for the profound difficulty in detecting a contrapuntal alignment because researchers invariably pair the beginning of a prospective melody with the beginning of the Enigma Theme. Such a predictable approach produces a mismatch even when the correct melody is considered.
The case for Ein feste Burg as the covert Principal Theme to the Enigma Variations is extensive and persuasive. Confirmation that Ein feste Burg is the hidden theme is given by a diverse range of music ciphers in the Enigma Theme and Variation XIII. Within the Enigma Theme is concealed a music box cipher, Elgar’s "dark saying" linked to the Enigma mentioned in the original 1899 program note. Incredibly, Elgar did not take his secret to the grave, but rather enciphered the answer within the orchestral score to ensure its survival and organic connection to the work. When discovered, the decrypted answer would remain unguessed just as Elgar predicted. He even went so far as to encode the initials for the hidden melody in the Enigma Theme which modulates between the minor and major modes of G. It is remarkable the accidentals for those two keys (E-flat, F sharpB flat) are the initials for Ein feste Burg.
The odd nickname for Jaeger’s Variation (Nimrod) is linked to the title A Mighty Fortress by of one Elgar’s favorite pastimes, wordplay. When he gave a copy of Longfellow’s novel Hyperion to the conductor Hans Richter following the premiere, Elgar literally gave away the answer.  No wonder he suspected the solution would soon be discovered. Even the wrong date on the original score is a revealing clue since it falls on the anniversary of Luther’s death. According to an alphanumeric cipher within the Mendelssohn fragments, the missing initials for Variation XIII (***) are E.F.B. – the initials for Ein feste BurgThe mapping of Ein feste Burg over Nimrod is so self-evident that the melodic solution to Elgar's Enigma Variations is as plain a pikestaff.
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 and forgiveness, the price is free.

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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 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.