The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy.
A comprehensive analysis of the Enigma Variations performed over a five-year period uncovered forty-one ciphers. One of the more basic among them is the Letter Cluster Cipher. The riddle is posed by three asterisks that ostensibly signify the initials for a secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII. What are those missing letters? A closer look reveals that question is literally framed by the answer. Consider the initials and subtitle for the movements immediately before and after XIII.
After carefully scrutinizing the first letters of the initials for XII and XIV and its subtitle, it becomes apparent Elgar envelops the asterisks of XIII with the letters E.F.B. The E and F appear in the E.D.U. and Finale from Variation XIV, and the B from B.G.N. of Variation XII. Why are these letters important? Because they are the initials for Ein feste Burg, the covert Principal Theme of the Enigma Variations. It is astonishing that such a basic and transparent cipher had not been spotted sooner. Elgar literally surrounds the question with the answer, proving yet again that the easiest way to conceal something is in plain sight.
Julian Rushton cites no less than five different lists of the variations compiled by Elgar. In the first two, Elgar places B.G.N. immediately before the Finale, E.D.U. By the third reordering, he inserts *** between B.G.N. and E.D.U. Only the fourth list does not clearly pair B.G.N. and E.D.U. together or just before and after *** because E.D.U. is absent. With the fifth and final ordering, Elgar settles again on situating B.G.N. before ***, and E.D.U right after as the Finale. The significance of these varying lists is Elgar paired B.G.N. and E.D.U. together in the first two followed by two other close pairings with *** sandwiched in between. With four of the five lists placing B.G.N. and E.D.U. together or before and after *** suggests a special connection between them. That link is the Letter Cluster Cipher.
It is hardly coincidental the initials E.F.B. are also encoded by the Keys Cipher in the Enigma Theme, the Mendelssohn EFB Cipher in XIII, and the Enigma Date Cipher at the end of the original score. Like the four sides of a square, Elgar encodes these letters in four distinct places within the orchestral score.
The interrelated decryptions of the Enigma Variations Ciphers are mutually consistent and reinforcing, erecting a rational and coherent matrix of solutions to one of musicology’s most enduring mysteries. With so many ciphers pointing to the same answer, there is no room for doubt. The ciphers are genuine, authenticating Ein feste Burg as the hidden melody to the Enigma Variations. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed. As Elgar's not-so-secret friend once said, "Seek and you will find."