|Drawn by Edward Elgar in March 1866|
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
The conventional wisdom holds that the Mendelssohn fragments quoted in Variation XIII are unrelated to the Enigma Theme and by extension the whole of the Enigma Variations. This view is fueled by the realization they harken from an entirely foreign work, Felix Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage Op. 27. That concert overture is approximately thirteen minutes long, a duration that presents an intriguing parallel with Variation XIII’s Roman numerals. The original German title — Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt — is drawn directly from two poems by Goethe that were extremely popular when Mendelssohn composed this programmatic piece. There is a tinge of irony in that deceptively serene title because Goethe was an early proponent of the literary movement known as Sturm und Drang which translates as “storm and drive.” With such an obvious foreign provenance, scholars reason the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII must be extraneous to the covert principal Theme, the “dark saying” mentioned by Elgar in the original 1899 program note, and the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. The scholars could not be more mistaken.
A contrarian view is raised by Elgar’s decision to superimpose those fragments over a pulsating ostinato sourced from the Enigma Theme’s palindromic rhythm of alternating pairs of eighth and quarter notes. This ostinato figure which represents a calm sea is comprised of harmonic sixths alternating by melodic thirds. With this specific combination of harmonic and melodic intervals, Elgar cleverly encodes an inverted reference to the opus number (36) of the Enigma Variations. This orchestrated mingling of the Enigma Theme’s rhythmic structure with the Mendelssohn fragments raises the possibility of a more nuanced connection between these two outwardly unrelated themes that demands a more in-depth inquiry.
The cursory impression the Mendelssohn fragments are unconnected to the Enigma Theme is undermined by numerous factors. First and foremost is the intentional and obvious pairing of these fragments with the Enigma Theme’s rhythmic ostinato. Elgar cautioned in the original 1899 program note, “. . . I warn you that the apparent connexion between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture . . .” This admonition is not granted sufficient weight by those who casually dismiss any potential links between the Enigma Theme and the Mendelssohn fragments. That no clear associations between the two may be easily spotted does not automatically render them aesthetically or cryptographically misaligned. It is paramount to recognize these fragments are quoted as prominent features of a variation, so this context strongly suggests they must be in some way related to the Enigma Theme if not its underlying mysteries. Uncovering those interconnections requires an intimate familiarity with music cryptography, a nebulous discipline for legacy scholars too preoccupied with recycling stale ideas while actively excluding fresh research and analysis through a rigged peer-review process.
The Mendelssohn fragments are like a small thread that, when tugged, unravels to reveal a much larger tapestry of intersecting musical cryptograms and counterpoints. Far from being irrelevant, the Mendelssohn fragments conceal a rich cache of cryptograms that disclose and authenticate the covert melodic Theme and the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. A comprehensive survey shows they harbor no less than seventeen cryptograms. These diverse ciphers encode a highly specific set of mutually reinforcing solutions that disclose and authenticate the covert Theme of the Enigma Variations and the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. This distinct subset of ciphers is listed below with links to their detailed descriptions and descriptions:
- FAE Cipher
- Mendelssohn FAE Syllables Cipher
- FACE Cipher
- AMF Cipher
- Mendelssohn E.F.B. Cipher
- Mendelssohn Keynotes Cipher
- Mendelssohn Scale Degrees Cipher
- Variation XIII Music Anagram Ciphers
- Mendelssohn Clarinet Solo Nominal Notes Cipher
- Clarinet A Major Key Signature Transposition Cipher
- Mendelssohn Pi Cipher
- Mendelssohn Pi-C Cipher
- Mendelssohn Fragments Melodic Intervals Cipher
- Dual Initials Enigma Cipher
- Romanza Cipher
- Dominant-Tonic-Dominant (5-1-5) Cipher
- “See Abba” Mendelssohn Cipher
Elgar was an expert cryptographer, so these discoveries should come as no surprise except for those who believed there are no cryptograms to uncover. His passion for this esoteric art is a principal feature of his psychological profile. It is exciting to report that further research has unmasked an eighteenth cipher previously unseen and unappreciated lurking among the Mendelssohn fragments within the orchestral score of Variation XIII. It is constructed from the particular clefs used by the instruments that perform the Mendelssohn fragments. For this reason, it is called the Mendelssohn Fragments Clefs Cipher.
Before laying out its decryptions and their significance, it is vital to recognize that the decision to carefully probe the clefs used to perform the Mendelssohn fragments was not a haphazard fishing expedition. It was sparked by the realization the word clef originates from the French word for key. That etymological insight proved pivotal because a particular cryptogram in the Enigma Theme’s opening six measures encodes a phonetic spelling of the word locks. The application of that association to the Enigma Theme soon led to the discovery of the Enigma Theme’s Keys Cipher. That haunting movement is performed in the parallel keys of G minor and major which have the accidentals B-flat, E-flat, and F-sharp. The letters of those accidentals encode the initials for Ein feste Burg, the covert Theme by Martin Luther. Locks are opened by keys, and the clefs used by the instruments which perform the Mendelssohn fragments are on closer inspection a set of previously unrecognized keys for unlocking Elgar’s melodic safe.
In the full score, there are three clefs used by instruments that perform the Mendelssohn fragments: Treble, alto, and bass. The solo B-flat clarinet which is written in treble clef plays the A-flat and E-flat major Mendelssohn quotations. The F minor fragment is performed in octaves with the upper voice played by three trumpets, and the lower voice by three trombones. These instrumental parts appear in the full score on three adjacent staves with three distinct clefs. Like the B-flat clarinet, the F trumpets are written in treble clef. The two tenor trombones are in the alto clef, and the bass trombone is in the bass clef. A triumvirate of clefs is assigned to performing the Mendelssohn fragments, and all three appear together for the F minor fragment.
The treble, alto, and bass clefs are known as the G, C, and F clefs respectively because of the particular notes they define on the staff in relation to middle C. The treble clef is called the G clef because it indicates the second line from the bottom as the G located a fifth above middle C. The alto clef is described as the C clef since it pinpoints the centerline as middle C. The bass clef is referred to as the F clef as it identifies the second line from the top as the F positioned a fifth below middle C. The use of precisely three clefs to perform the Mendelssohn fragments presents a tantalizing parallel with the title’s three cryptic asterisks (* * *). The match between the number of clefs associated with the Mendelssohn fragments and the title’s cryptic asterisks hints at a prospective cipher. Elgar was quite familiar with this technique of spelling words with different clefs. At eight years old, he drew four intersecting staves with four different clefs and one note in the center to encipher “BACH”. This was done in imitation of the original by the master himself.
Before venturing any further into the cryptographic convergence between the Mendelssohn fragments' three clefs and three asterisks, it is important to consider that Elgar was steeped in Roman lore in the months leading up to the genesis of the Enigma Variations Op. 36. During 1897 and 1898, his artistic energies were directed towards completing Caractacus Op. 35. This oratorio recounts the historical drama of a British chieftain who heroically resisted the Roman legions at the British Camp on the Malvern Hills. Although defeated and taken captive to Rome, Caractacus so impressed Claudius, the fourth Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, that he was pardoned. Elgar’s interest in the intersections of Roman and British history certainly extended to Julius Caesar (who mounted two invasions of Britain) and his notable passion for cryptography.
In his personal library, Elgar kept a series of four articles published by The Pall Mall Magazine in 1896 under the collective title Secrets In Cipher. John Holt Schooling prepared these informative and engaging exposés about the history of secret codes. The first installment — “From Ancient Times To Late Elizabethan Days” — includes a brief description of a secret code used by Julius Caesar. Schooling writes, “. . . the historian Suetonius relates that when Caesar would convey any private business he did usually write it by substituting other letters of the alphabet for those which composed his real meaning — such as D for A, E for B, and so for the rest.” Elgar studied this basic encipherment technique known more commonly today as the Caesar shift at least two years before turning his attention to completing the Enigma Variations in 1898-99.
There are varied reasons for suspecting Elgar contemplated a Caesar shift cipher when inserting the anomalous Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII. One obvious clue hinges on the Roman numerals in the title. Another and perhaps less apparent hint is the subtitle Romanza, a term that is based almost entirely on the word Roman. One of the most towering figures in Rome’s thousand-year history was Julius Caesar, the first Emperor to invade England in 55 BC and the subject of one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays written around 1599. There is yet another suggestion found in the Mendelssohn fragments which symbolize the sea, a term that phonetically duplicates the first syllable in Caesar. This link is further cemented by the Roman numerals XIII which encode the initials for Julius Caesar using a basic number-to-letter key (X = J, III = C).
In consideration of these clues, it is entirely conceivable Elgar applied Caesar’s encipherment method to the clefs used with the Mendelssohn fragments. But how many letters should the clef letters be shifted? There are some indirect indications for how much of a shift should be applied. The first concerns the number of this movement, thirteen. The first digit of that number is one, and the second is three. The placement of the one before the three suggests moving three different letters back one space. A similarly constructed clue is found in the Mendelssohn fragments, for there are three in contrasting major keys and only one outlier in a minor mode. A major triad is transformed or “shifted” into a minor chord by lowering the third note by a half step. The presence of three major fragments and only a single minor exception hints at shifting three letters by one step. The application of a Caesar shift of minus one to the clef letters “CFG” yields the three letters immediately preceding them in the alphabet, or “BEF”. Those plaintext solution letters are the initials of Elgar’s covert Theme, Ein feste Burg. These are the solution letters to the three cryptic asterisks serving as the title for Variation XIII.
The application of alternative alphabetical shifts to the clef letters produces some extraordinary results. A Caesar shift of plus five to the clef letters “GCF” yields a decryption of “BXA”. Those letters are an anagram “of ABX” which may be read phonetically as “A BoX.” Elgar’s personal correspondence is rife with phonetic spellings, and it is for this reason that phonetic decryptions must be granted serious consideration. The plaintext “A B(o)X” is significant because Elgar embedded within the Enigma Theme’s opening six measures an ingenious Music Box Cipher that encodes the entire twenty-four letters of the covert Theme’s complete six-word title as a grand anagram. A shift of five to these three clef letters is suggested by Elgar’s initials because the fifth letter of the alphabet is E. When the letters “GCF” are shifted by 24 letters, the plaintext result is “IEH”. These three letters are an anagram of ΙΗΣ, the first three letters in the Greek spelling for the Latinized rendering of Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ). In Latin, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ is spelled as IHSOUS, the source of the IHS insignia. There are twenty-four letters in the covert Theme’s complete title, a figure that is encoded extensively throughout the Enigma Theme.
Most scholars would assert the three asterisks must stand for the initials of a secret friend, and that is undoubtedly what Elgar would have expected an unsuspecting observer to believe. This perspective is rooted in the observation that seven other movements also exhibit three letters representing the initials for some of Elgar’s friends. However, he did not uniformly acknowledge all of his friends in that way. Three are signified by either their name or nickname and still one more with four initials rather than the usual three. This shows there is no hard and fast rule requiring the three asterisks must absolutely signify a secret friend’s initials. There is mounting cryptographic evidence they actually conceal the initials for the covert Theme. This suspicion is supported by the obvious parallel between an absent Theme and the missing initials. The title of the covert Theme is secret, and so too are the initials for Variation XIII. This point of correspondence strongly intimates the initials actually stand for those of the secret Theme.
Where could the secret friend’s initials be found if they are not lurking behind the cryptic asterisks? Consider the case of Variation IX. That elegiac movement is dedicated to August Jaeger, Elgar’s only German friend portrayed in the Variations, yet it has as its title the biblical name Nimrod. Although it seems to exclude Jaeger’s initials, Elgar transparently conceals them in the Roman numerals with a simple number-to-letter cipher. The Roman numeral for one is I; the first letter of the alphabet is A. X represents ten; the tenth letter is J. With the application of an elementary number-to-letter key, the Roman numerals IX may be decoded as “AJ”. Those are the initials for August Jaeger. There is a commonality as the Enigma Locks Cipher also employs the same number-to-letter decryption key as this Variation IV Roman Numerals Cipher.
The discovery of the Roman Numerals IX Cipher in the ninth variation calls for contemplating the same approach with Variation XIII. The tenth letter of the alphabet is J, and the third is C. The application of a number-to-letter conversion to the Roman numerals XIII produces the initials J. C. Is there some well-known person with those initials for whom Elgar, a Roman Catholic who openly dedicated the majority of his major works to God, would compose an orchestral Romanza? Certainly, it is not Julius Caesar, although such a covert reference would serve an ancillary cryptographic purpose as shown by the Mendelssohn Fragments Clefs Cipher. The manifest choice is the Lord and Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith, Jesus Christ.
There are a host of reasons for concluding that the initials encoded by the Variation XIII Roman Numerals Cipher refer to Jesus Christ. The “deathly stillness” sonically portrayed by the Mendelssohn fragments alludes to his gruesome crucifixion. A coded connection between Jesus and his executioners is openly concealed by the subtitle for Variation XIII — Romanza — which contains a phonetic version of Romans. The dynamic marking for the very first Mendelssohn quotation (PP) shrewdly encodes the initials for the Roman governor who pronounced his death sentence: Pontius Pilate. With his Dual Initials Enigma Cipher, Elgar relies on four sets of matching initials associated with the Enigma Variations to encode all six initials of the covert Theme’s complete German title. The discovery of Pilate’s initials in the first Mendelssohn quotation constitutes a fifth set within the context of another cipher.
The discovery of the “DEAD G-D” Cipher in Variation XIII reinforces the identification of the encoded initials in the Roman numerals as those for Jesus Christ. In Variation XIII there are two instances in which the word “DEAD” is spelled by notes played sequentially in the bass section, the lowest voice on the bottom staff of the orchestral score. The spelling of this ominous word by the lowest voice in the orchestra is symbolically apropos because death takes one low to the depths of the grave. In each case, these four-note death phrases are immediately followed by three phonetic spellings of “G-D” in the three highest voices on the top three staves of the score. The note G followed by D is a phonetic spelling for God. Three statements of “G-D” are a transparent allusion to the Roman Catholic belief in the Trinity. A central tenet of Roman Catholicism is the belief that Jesus is the Second Person of the Godhead who died and rose from the grave. This identification is strengthened by the first two melody notes of Variation XIII which are G followed by D, yet another illuminating and phonetic spelling of God. This presents a parallel with the “A B(o)X” decryption of the Mendelssohn Fragments Clef Letters because the o is absent.
The marine atmosphere of Variation XIII is theologically tied to Jesus because he likened his death and resurrection to the prophet Jonah who spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale. When the Pharisees and scribes demanded a miracle as proof of his divine authority, Jesus replied none would be granted except the Sign of Jonah. He explained:
Evil and sinful people are the ones who want to see a miracle as a sign. But no miracle will be done to prove anything to them. The only sign will be the miracle that happened to the prophet Jonah. Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish for three days and three nights. In the same way, the Son of Man will be in the grave three days and three nights.
The Mendelssohn fragments hint at the second initial encoded by the XIII Roman Numerals Cipher because they sonically portray a calm sea. This is a consummate example of Elgar’s affinity for wordplay because the word sea is the phonetic equivalent of the letter C. That letter is also the first in the English translation of the title to Mendelssohn’s overture, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. It should also be mentioned that on March 21, 1816 — the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach — Felix Mendelssohn was baptized a Lutheran. Although he was born a Jew, Mendelssohn proudly and publicly embraced Jesus as his Messiah. Elgar’s decision to quote Mendelssohn’s music in a movement covertly dedicated to Christ was surely motivated by this reality. By overtly quoting the music of a Lutheran by baptism, Elgar cleverly hinted at the identity of the composer of the covert Theme, Martin Luther. The name of Elgar’s secret friend is given in the second stanza of Ein feste Burg, establishing a cohesive bond between the secret friend and the hidden Theme. The presence of the secret friend’s initials via the Roman numerals for Variation XIII makes it far more likely that the three mysterious asterisks stand for the initials of the absent Theme. Like those three asterisks, the common title for Luther’s hymn has precisely three words for three initials.
This cryptographic excavation is far from over because there is much more to this puzzle than merely shifting three clef letters back one space to unveil the initials of the covert Theme. With its ominous minor mode, the Mendelssohn fragment in F minor most compellingly conveys the “deathly stillness” of the sea captured by Goethe in his poem Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt. This fragment is performed in octaves by three F trumpets, two tenor trombones, and one bass trombone. The original score identifies these instruments by their Italian names with the trumpets labeled Trombe, and the trombones Tromboni. Ensconced within the first five letters of these Italian terms is the word tomb. It appears in the Italian words for trumpet (Trombe), the plural of the tenor trombones (Tromboni), and the singular case for bass trombone (Trombone).
There are precisely two es in Trombe, Tromboni, and Trombone. This is undoubtedly a coded version of the composer’s initials. Indeed, he initialed multiple cryptograms found in the Enigma Variations. The number of trumpets (3) and trombones (3) furnish the mirror image of Elgar’s initials of two capital cursive Es. This is yet another way in which Elgar covertly initialed this cipher. The first letters of the trumpets and trombones allude to the initials for Torquato Tasso whom Elgar paraphrases at the conclusion of the original full score. Tasso and the Turin Shroud are indelibly linked because Tasso was the guest of honor when the Holy Shroud arrived in Turin in 1578.
This F Minor Mendelssohn Fragment “TOMB” Cipher is another sublime example of Elgar’s propensity for wordplay. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus spent three days and three nights in the tomb. Three thinly veiled tomb references on three adjacent staff lines used to perform the F minor Mendelssohn fragment are evocative of Christ’s brief entombment. Regarding the intervening rs which separate the Ts from the remaining letters of the word tomb, Elgar may have contemplated various Latin abbreviations from the catacomb inscriptions. In the catacombs, the letter r represents such terms as requiescit (“He Rests”) and refrigerio (“In [a place of] Refreshment”).
The appearance of three capital Ts on the three brass staves performing the F minor fragment is telling because the Greek letter Tau is an ancient Christogram for the cross. It appears in early catacomb epitaphs as signi Christi, the sign of Christ. Jesus was crucified between two criminals, resulting in a total of three crosses at his gruesome and unjust execution. In like manner, there are three T’s in the orchestral score used to identify three brass staves that perform the F minor Mendelssohn fragment.
Elgar employed six brass instruments with parts dispersed over three staves to perform the F minor Mendelssohn fragment, resulting in yet another coded reference to the opus number (36). The use of brass instruments presents a theological tie-in with the Exodus account where Moses placed a serpent of brass on a wooden pole as a token of salvation from a plague of venomous snakes. It was during a conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus that Jesus prophesied regarding his crucifixion by citing this symbolic act by Moses. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” Jesus explained, “even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” The blend of the three major Mendelssohn fragments performed by the clarinet (a symbolic wooden stick) with a single minor fragment performed by six brass instruments may be interpreted as an orchestral allusion to Moses’ Brazen Serpent described in the Book of Exodus, for this powerful symbol was fashioned from wood and brass.
|The Brazen Serpent by James Tissot (circa 1896–1902)|
The names of these brass instruments conceal multiple wordplay ciphers. The Tomb Cipher is one superb example, and there are at least two others. The letters of the Italian word for the city where the Turin Shroud is guarded — Torino — are hidden within the first and last three letters of the Italian word for trombones (Tromboni). The first three letters of the Italian terms for the brass instruments tasked with performing the F minor Mendelssohn fragment (Trombe, Tromboni, and Trombone) is an anagram for Tor, a term which means a high craggy hill. Jesus was crucified on a rocky outcropping known as Golgotha, a term derived from the Aramaic Gagultâ which means “place of the skull.”
The initials unveiled by the Roman Numerals XIII Cipher encode those for Elgar’s real secret friend, Jesus Christ. However, this does not preclude their stealth use for multiple ancillary cryptograms. A coded reference to Julius Caesar using the same set of initials for Jesus Christ is actually quite elegant because Jesus was born under the reign of Caesar Augustus (the adopted son of Julius Caesar), and died under Tiberius Julius Caesar. There is cryptographic evidence that Elgar used the same set of initials to refer to multiple individuals in Variation II. The initials H. D. S-P. refer to two individuals. They publicly represent Elgar’s friend, Hew David Stewart Powell. However, the dash between the S and P is conspicuously absent from Powell's college records. That anomalous dash serves to link the S and P together as a second set of initials which stand for the first official photographer of the Turin Shroud, Secondo Pia. Confirmation of this decryption is provided by the Roman Numerals for that movement (II) which literally translates into Italian as Secondo. The translation of these Roman numerals into their Italian counterpart is strongly suggested by the toccata-like subject employed by Elgar for this variation because the term toccata is of Italian derivation. The last name, Pia, is ingeniously hinted at by the toccata-like runs Elgar uses throughout that movement to portray Powell’s warm-up routine on his favored instrument, the Piano. Like the name of the city where the Turin Shroud is stored and periodically displayed, the word toccata begins with the letter t which resembles a small cross.
Elgar’s secret homage to Pia was undoubtedly motivated by his historic photograph of the sacred burial cloth of Jesus Christ taken in May 1898, five months before serious work commenced on the Enigma Variations. Pia’s photograph was unprecedented because it proved for the first time that the image of a crucified man on the Shroud was a photographic negative, a preternatural feature that predates the invention of this technology by millennia. The coded connections in the Enigma Variations between Jesus Christ and Secondo Pia are credible and robust because they are reinforced by other cryptograms, most notably the Romanza Cipher which encodes a direct reference to the Turin Shroud.
In a numerically fitting gesture, Elgar employs the initials for the second Variation to refer to two individuals. In a similar vein, he achieves the same with the initials encoded by Roman Numerals XIII Cipher.
|Left: Photographic negative of the Turin Shroud|
Right: Secondo Pia posing with his camera
The metallic drone of the timpani on a C during the performance of the A-flat major fragments, and again on G with the E-flat fragment, represents the sound of a distant steamer crossing the open sea. The dearth of wind would risk death on the high seas for a sailing vessel, but not for one powered by steam. This absence of cloth sails may be viewed as an allusion to another renowned cloth, the Turin Shroud. In a conversation between Elgar and Troyte Griffith at Marl Bank, it suggested that the Enigma Theme could be portrayed in a ballet as a “veiled dancer.” Elgar’s remark is cut from a different cloth in light of the cipher discoveries implicating the Turin Shroud.
Among the instruments Elgar chose to perform the Mendelssohn fragments, only two are transposing ones: A solo B-flat clarinet and three F trumpets. Notice that the integers needed to form the number thirteen make yet another appearance. The written pitch in the clarinet part for the A-flat major and E-flat major fragments is B-flat major and F major respectively. The F trumpets perform the F minor fragment in C minor, and the relative major of C minor is E-flat. Therefore, the major key signatures of the written pitches for the transposing instruments which perform the Mendelssohn fragments encode the initials E. F. B. The letters B and F are directly linked to these two transposing instruments, namely the B-flat clarinet and F trumpets. The initials for Ein feste Burg are present in the Italian term for the F Trumpets which perform the upper octave of the F minor Mendelssohn fragment: F Trombe. On the last page of the appended Finale completed in July 1899, Elgar wrote his signature next to the musical term Fine and the location Birchwood lodge. The close proximity of the first letters of these terms (Edward, Fine, and Birchwood) forms a thinly veiled acrostic anagram of the covert Theme’s initials.
The discovery of the Enigma Locks Cipher led to the discovery of the Enigma Keys Cipher because locks are opened with keys. This, in turn, prompted a careful analysis of the clef letters associated with the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII because the French word clef means key. It has been shown how the clef letters for the instruments which perform the Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII may be decrypted using a Caesar shift of minus one to divulge the initials (E. F. B.) for the covert Theme, Ein feste Burg. Applying a Caesar shift of 5 to those clef letters produces the plaintext “ABX” which may be read phonetically as “A B(o)X.” The shift of five letters is suggested by Elgar’s initials because E is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and his initials are embedded in the Mendelssohn fragments in multiple ways. A decryption that reads phonetically as “A BoX” is significant because there is a Music Box Cipher ensconced in the Enigma Theme which encodes all twenty-four letters of the covert Theme’s six-word German title. The application of a Caesar shift of twenty-four to those three clef letters produces “IHE”. These three letters are an anagram of ΙΗΣ, the first three letters in the Greek spelling for the Latinized rendering of Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ). The initials for the Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith are transparently encoded by the Roman numerals of Variation XIII using a number-to-letter key. There are numerous ciphers that confirm and authenticate Jesus Christ as the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII.
Elgar’s flair for wordplay is exhibited by his orchestration of the F minor Mendelssohn fragment performed by the trumpets and trombones. The Italian names for the trumpets (Trombe) and trombones (Tromboni) contain multiple instances of the word tomb. With that grave term buried within these Italian terms, the dispersal of these instrumental names over three adjacent staves in the full score serves as a coded reference to Christ’s three-day interment. This interpretation is bolstered by the discovery of the “DEAD G-D” Cipher in Variation XIII, and various cryptograms in the Enigma Variations referring to the Turin Shroud and its first official photographer. The first and last three letters of the Italian word for trombones (Tromboni) are an anagram for Torino, the Italian name translated as Turin. It is hardly coincidental that the three capital Ts appearing as the first letter in the instrumental names Trombe, Tromboni, and Trombone, resemble three Tau crosses, for this was the number and type of crosses at Christ’s crucifixion where he was executed between two common criminals. At the top of the page on the earliest known sketch of Variation XIII, Elgar wrote three Xs in blue pencil that resemble three crosses. The identification of these three Xs as transparent Christograms is bolstered by the recognition that in his personal correspondence, Elgar would sometimes write “Xtian” in place of the word Christian.
The decision to quote music by Felix Mendelssohn in the Enigma Variations decisively refutes the misguided assumption that Elgar’s Roman Catholicism would bar him from citing the works of any Protestant composers. Although born to Jewish parents, Mendelssohn was baptized a Lutheran on the anniversary of another prominent Lutheran’s birth, Johann Sebastian Bach. The FAE Cipher formed by the key letters of the Mendelssohn fragments hints at another Jew who was baptized a Lutheran, the famed violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim. It is incredibly revealing that through these seemingly extraneous Mendelssohn fragments, Elgar refers to two great Jewish musicians who converted to Lutheranism, Mendelssohn and his protégé Joachim. That one of them bears the name of Jesus' earthly father (Joseph) is not accidental, but instead another clue regarding the secret friend’s identity. Elgar invited the speculation that Variation XIII was dedicated to Lady Mary Lygon whose first name is the same as Jesus’ mother who is known by pious Roman Catholics as Lady Mary. To learn more about one of Elgar's greatest symphonic achievements, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.