Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt,
It lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after
Ends life, kills laughter.
The Enigma I will not explain – it’s ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the connexion between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes’, but is not played…
The unmasking of the Locks Cipher in the Enigma Theme was a watershed moment in my search for cryptograms in the Enigma Variations. Why would Elgar encode the word locks in the Enigma Theme? One plausible explanation is that locks, like ciphers, are opened with keys. More important still was the realization that tonal music is composed in contrasting key signatures commonly referred to more simply as keys. A key implication of the Locks Cipher was that the musical keys of the Enigma Theme conceal a hidden message, a cryptogram.
The Locks Cipher catalyzed the discovery and decryption of the Keys Cipher. The Enigma Theme is written in the parallel keys of G minor and G major. The key signature of G minor consists of B flat and E flat. The key signature of G major is F sharp. Consistent with the plaintext message of the Locks Cipher, the accidentals for the Enigma Theme’s keys encipher the initials for the covert principal Theme, Ein feste Burg. Alluded to by the cryptic subtitle of Variations XIII in the form of three asterisks, those three initials are encoded by no less than nine ciphers spanning from the original cover to the final page of the symphonic score.
|The Cover Page E.F.B. Cipher|
In a deft display of concealing the obvious in plain sight, Elgar wrote the initials of the secretive melody as an anagram on the first and last pages of the original score. Twice on the title page, he wrote the abbreviation “FEb” instead of “February” when annotating the start and end dates of the orchestration. The second letter in both abbreviations is incorrectly capitalized, suggesting both a coded version of Elgar’s initials (EE) as well as the first letter of a title. He also wrote “FEb” for a third time on the final page. The incorporation the composer’s initials into these cryptograms is not an isolated instance. There are at least five ciphers in the Enigma Variations in which Elgar subtly inserted his initials or last name within the plaintext. The first letters from the first and last titles (Enigma and E.D.U.) further suggest Elgar’s initials.
Elgar could not have made it more conspicuous by openly concealing the solution letters to Variation XIII’s cryptic subtitle (***) on the first and last pages of the full score. For good measure, he arranged those same initials as an acrostic anagram in the titles of the movements immediately before and after Variation XIII. The title of Variation XII is B.G.N. The titles of Variation XIV are E.D.U. and Finale. In each cipher, the initials of the covert Theme’s title is subjected to anagrammitization, a layer of transposition that efficiently camouflages the solution. The initials of the secret friend are actually encoded by the Roman numerals of Variation XIII, a method also applied in Variation IX to encipher the initials of August Jaeger.
|The Enigma Date Cipher|
The Enigma Variations Keys Cipher
The significance of the Locks Cipher extends beyond the Enigma Theme as it demands a cryptographic reappraisal of the key signatures used throughout the Enigma Variations. A major implication of the Enigma Theme Keys Cipher is that the key signatures of the Variations collectively constitute a larger cipher. The first step to assess this possibility was to tabulate all of the key signatures for every movement of the Enigma Variations.
It was determined that only five different key signatures are used throughout the fifteen movements of Enigma Variations. These five key signatures are G major, G minor, C major, C minor and E flat major. The use of five distinct key signatures is conspicuous because Elgar compiled five different lists of the Variations before settling on the final sequence.
Before attempting to make sense of these five key signatures, it is essential to recognize Elgar’s predilection for phonetic spellings, anagrams, and secret codes. His personal correspondence bristles with what Eric Sams dubbed trick spellings. For instance, Elgar respelled excuse as xqqq. His inventive alternative spellings for score ranged from ckor, skore, skorh, skowre, skourrghe, csquorr, skourghowore, to ssczowoughohr. Anagrams require transposing letters into new configurations to unveil a hidden meaning. For example, the word rescue may be reshuffled to spell secure. When his family moved into a new residence in March 1899, Elgar named it Craeg Lae. This unconventional title is an anagram constructed from the reverse spelling of Elgar’s name (Craeg Lae) mingled with the initials of his family members’ first names (Edward, Alice and Carice).
And now to the decryption. The five key letters “GGCCE” may be rearranged as an anagram to form “CGGEC.” At first glance this arrangement appears to convey no obvious meaning, an impression dispelled by a more comprehensive phonetic analysis. The first letter in this anagram (C) sounds like see. The next two letters (GG) are the plural of G, sounding like “Jees.” Elgar used the plural form of a letter to produce a phonetic equivalent with his respelling of excuse as xqqq. The last two letters (EC) sound like the letter S or “Es,” an interpretation supported by Elgar’s substitution of c for s in his respelling of score as ckor. A phonetic analysis of the anagram “CGGEC” derived from the key letters of the Enigma Variations reveals it may be read as “See Jesus.” Like scores of other ciphers in the Enigma Variations, this decryption authenticates the identity of the secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII. This plaintext solution is hardly a revelation, for Elgar was a Roman Catholic who dedicated the majority of his major works to God.
What makes the phonetic decryption “See Jesus” even more significant is that it mirrors the meaning of two phonetic plaintext solutions produced by the Locks Cipher: “Behold Jesus Christ” (LO JC) and “Looks like Jesus Christ” (LOOX LQ JC). The probability of multiple ciphers encoding three virtually identical plaintext solutions constructed from phonetic spellings is so infinitesimally remote that only a deliberate construction may be seriously entertained. If Elgar’s correspondence is any measure of probity, then a phonetic decryption is his peculiar imprimatur of authenticity. Phonetic spellings are also an effective stratagem for hardening a cipher, making it exponentially more difficult to brute force and decode.
It is relevant to observe regarding the “C GGEC” anagram that the letter C not only sounds like see but also sea. It is richly symbolic that the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII begin with the clarinet playing the note C in a passage that sonically portrays a steamer crossing the sea. With this homophone, the Enigma Variations Keys Cipher alludes to the very movement dedicated in secret to the unseen Christ who was crucified on a cross at Gordon’s Calvary. The letter C is also encoded by the XIII Roman Numerals Cipher as one of the initials for Elgar’s secret friend, the same revealed by the retrograde decryption of the Locks Cipher (LO JC).
The Enigma Variations Key Numbers Cipher
The decoding of the Enigma Variations Keys Cipher is not yet complete because Elgar applied the same Number-to-Letter encryption to key signatures with frequencies greater than one. Key signatures with frequencies greater than one are G major (6), G minor (5), and C major (2). These three keys are used in a total of thirteen movements. When the totals for each of these keys (6, 5 and 2) are converted into their corresponding letters (A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc…), the results are F, E, and B. These letters should be quite familiar by now as they are the initials for Ein feste Burg. With six other ciphers encoding the identical initials, the Enigma Variations Key Numbers Cipher joins that special subgroup as the seventh. When paired together, the numbers for the two remaining keys with only one movement each (C minor and E flat major) pinpoint the total of unique letters in the complete 24-letter title of the covert principal Theme, eleven (11). This is an important clue for applying frequency analysis to decrypt a Polybius Square Cipher embedded in the opening six measures of the Enigma Theme. Also known as a Music Box Cipher, the plaintext solution in measure 1 of the Enigma Theme is GSUS, a phonetic rendering of Jesus. This serves as further evidence for the secret friend’s true identity.
Richard Santa made the breakthrough discovery that the mathematical ratio Pi is encoded in the Enigma Theme’s first measure using the melody’s scale degrees (3-1-4-2). This special number defines a circle's circumference to its diameter, and its inclusion in the first bar of the Enigma Theme subtly hints at a large circular stone that sealed the entrance to Christ's tomb. The combined plaintext results of the Enigma Theme’s Pi Cipher and Music Box Cipher in the first measure produces “Pi GSUS.” This is the Latin phrase “Pie Jesu” (Pious Jesus) with the English translation of Jesu. Latin and English are two languages used with phonetic spellings in the plaintext decryption of the Enigma Theme Music Box Cipher. The Latin phrase “Pie Jesu” originates from the final couplet of the Dies Irae and is featured in musical settings of the Requiem Mass which is also known as the Mass for the Dead (Missa pro defunctis). The two broken thirds in measure 1 identify the age of Christ at his death (33). The mirror image of the number 33 resembles two capitalized cursive Es which are Edward Elgar’s initials.
Elgar’s initials (E. E.) are stealthily encoded in the Enigma Variations Keys Cipher using a Number-to-Letter conversion. The letter E is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and the number five appears twice. In the first instance, there are five distinct key signatures used over the course of fifteen movements. In the second case, five of the movements are in G major. It is reasonable to suspect Elgar inserted his name or initials into a variety of ciphers in the Enigma Variations to serve as a stealth form of authentication.
There is an explanation for why Elgar would encode the phrases “Behold Jesus Christ,” “Looks like Jesus Christ,” and “See Jesus” in the Enigma Variations. The “deathly stillness” of Goethe’s calm sea (Meeresstille) depicted by the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII hints at the reason. Elgar’s reference to two plays by Maurice Maeterlinck (L’Intruse and Les Sept Princesses) in the original 1899 program note bolsters this suspicion, for the main protagonist in those plays who never appears on stage is Death. The “Pie Jesus” Cipher in the Enigma Theme’s first measure also conjures up an image of death because of its association with the Requiem Mass. The special connection between Elgar’s secret friend and Death is established by the DEAD G-D Cipher in Variation XIII. Only three of the Enigma Variations were performed at a national memorial service held at Worcester Cathedral one week after Elgar's death in 1934. These were Variation I dedicated to Elgar's wife (C.A.E.) who died in 1920, Variation IX dedicated to Elgar's friend August Jaeger (Nimrod) who died in 1909, and Variation XIII. The performance of only these three movements clearly implied all three of these friends predeceased Elgar. Mark Pitt's theory concerning the link between Elgar's "dark saying" and mortality is dead right.
According to Elgar’s Roman Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, Jesus is recognized as a member of the Godhead whose death and sacrifice on the cross made possible the rekindling of the friendship between God and humanity that was tragically lost at the Edenic fall. The centrality of this pillar of Elgar’s faith is verified by the Romanza Cipher which encodes a reference to the Turin Shroud, the burial cloth of Christ. This famous linen cloth is the most sacred relic of the Roman Catholic Church because it bears the faint image of a crucified man that many believe to be the body of Christ. Five months before Elar began work on the Enigma Variations, Secondo Pia took a famous photograph of the Turin Shroud. Pia’s photographic negative made international headlines because it showed that the image on the Turin Shroud is a photographic negative. This discovery strongly implies a miraculous origin because the recorded history of the Turin Shroud predates the invention of photography by almost a millennium.
Elgar’s dedication for the Enigma Variations reads, “Dedicated to my friends pictured within.” This phrase is six words in length and has eleven syllables. These numbers, six and eleven, are significant because the covert Theme’s full title is six words long and has eleven unique letters. Elgar’s choice of words is also remarkable because it hints at a picture of death. The first word begins with a phonetic version of dead (DEDicated), and the fifth word is pictured. Is this not an apt description of the Turin Shroud?
The encoded phrases “Behold Jesus Christ,” “Looks like Jesus Christ,” and “See Jesus” are fitting descriptions of the Turin Shroud and its famous photographic negative. As the Apostle Thomas would confess, seeing is believing. The cumulative impact of multiple ciphers encoding the same set of mutually consistent answers speaks to their authenticity and accuracy.
Elgar makes m coded references to Dante's epic Christian poem The Divine Comedy in the Enigma Variations. These allusions to one of the great works of Western civilization includes the number of key signatures (5) and movements (15) in the Enigma Variations. When these two numbers are placed side by side, they produce 515. There are numerous coded references in Variation XIII to that symbolic number associated with Dante's “enigma forte,” a cryptic prophecy about a future savior. In recognizing these subtle allusions to one of the great works of Western civilization, Elgar offers his own solution to Dante’s difficult enigma in the form of the Enigma Variations.
The efficacy of the Locks Cipher is further shown by Elar’s choice of keys for the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII. There are four fragments in three contrasting keys. Two are in A flat major, a third in F minor, and a fourth in E flat major. These key letters are a pellucid anagram of the well known musical cryptogram F.A.E. The initials originate from violinist Joseph Joachim’s personal romantic motto "Frei aber einsam," which means “Free but lonely.” The thrust of Joachim’s motto is hinted at by Elgar’s retrospective remarks about the Enigma Theme, that “it expressed when written (in 1898) my sense of the loneliness of the artist.” It is ignominious that someone of Julian Rushton’s stature failed to detect such an elementary music cryptogram streaking so openly in the anomalous Mendelssohn fragments. Rushton’s failure to do so testifies loudly to his impotence as a musical cryptographer.
The presence of so many ciphers encoding the same set of mutually consistent answers is confirmation of their legitimacy, not evidence of confirmation bias as musicologist Linda Shaver-Gleason biasedly contends without a shred of confirmation. In her haste to dismiss an incredible array of interlocking cryptograms in the Enigma Variations, Shaver-Gleason callously chalks them up to the convenient catchall of confirmation bias. She deceptively reasons that the existence of so many diverse yet compatible ciphers must be confirmation of confirmation bias rather than the result of Elgar’s deliberate construction. The mischaracterization of these cryptograms as the product of something as nebulous and plastic as confirmation bias is a barbaric insult to Elgar’s genius, and is a charge that more accurately characterizes Shaver-Gleason’s scurrilous and spurious denunciation.
In her bombastic critique, Shaver-Gleason invokes the opinions of Julian Rushton in a naked appeal to authority. If Shaver-Gleason had done her homework, then she would have soon realized that Julian Rushton had not done his. Rushton is so obtuse that he cannot distinguish between the dichotomous definitions of simple and enigma. To sink into such a contradictory quagmire of intellectual depravity is the special purview of career academics whose minds are hard-boiled in a post-modernist sludge of secularism. Rushton is too backward to fathom a retrograde mapping of Ein feste Burg “through and over” the Enigma theme. If one has never read anything about the Enigma Variations, then that person is uninformed. If someone has consulted Rushton’s ruminations on Elgar’s enigmas, then that person is misinformed. Ultimately my research is above the heads of career academics like Rushton and Shaver-Gleason, and that is not very high. Shaver-Gleason’s reliance on Rushton expertise is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.
To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.