It is the sculptor’s power...of finding the perfect form and features of a goddess, in the shapeless block of marble; and his ability to chip off all extraneous matter, and let the divine excellence stand forth for itself.
Variation XIII from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations is a reflective Romanza with an austere title of three enigmatic asterisks (***). This movement features three major melodic quotations from Felix Mendelssohn’s concert overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage (Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt) Op. 27. Each quotation is performed by the principal clarinet to symbolize a calm sea. The ebb and flow of the tides are embodied by the accompaniment, an undulating ostinato that reprises the Enigma Theme’s palindromic rhythm of two alternating pairs of two eighth notes and two quarter notes.
The marriage of these Mendelssohn quotations with the Enigma Theme’s palindromic rhythm suggests a deeper connection between these two seemingly disparate melodies. The Enigma Theme is a counterpoint to a famous yet absent Theme, and in a similar vein, the unconventional title of Variation XIII is also missing. Unmasking the connections between the Enigma Theme and Variation XIII demands a mastery of music cryptography, an esoteric art that eludes legacy scholars who stubbornly tout the conventional wisdom that the Mendelssohn fragments are entirely alien to the Enigma Theme. This superficial impression proves to be profoundly misguided.
Extensive research and analysis confirm the Mendelssohn fragments harbor a trove of cryptograms that disclose and authenticate the covert melodic Theme to the Enigma Variations and the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. While astonishing in their scope, these ciphers are entirely consistent with Elgar’s expertise in cryptography. This towering trait of his psychological profile merits an entire chapter in Craig Bauer’s recently published history of the world’s greatest ciphers, Unsolved! A meticulous analysis of the Mendelssohn fragments has so far netted twenty-one cryptograms. This impressive array of ciphers is listed below with links to their detailed descriptions and decryptions:
- 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
- Mendelssohn Fragments Clefs Cipher
- Rehearsal 55 Clarinet Solo Cipher
- Mendelssohn-Wagner Melodic Merger Cipher
- Mendelssohn Quotations Accidentals Cipher
The academic establishment missed the proverbial boat regarding the cryptographic significance of the Mendelssohn fragments. It is a privilege to announce the discovery of another cryptogram ensconced within the Mendelssohn fragments, making it the 22nd in the series. This cipher begins with the simple task of listing in the order of appearance the six discrete notes from the Mendelssohn quotations: C, B-flat, A-flat, G, F, and E-flat. The next step is to identify the three lowest pedal tone notes that accompany those Mendelssohn quotations: C, A-flat, and G. These pedal tones are clearly defined in Elgar’s official piano reduction of the Enigma Variations published in 1899. A sustain pedal symbol indicates where the pedal is depressed, allowing for all the notes to continue sounding until they stop vibrating or until the pedal is released. An asterisk shows where the sustain pedal should be lifted. It is remarkable that the three asterisks appearing in the title of the piano reduction are the same type used within the short score to indicate where the sustain pedal should be lifted.
The elimination of those pedal tone notes from the Mendelssohn quotations yields B-flat, F, and E-flat. Those three letters are the backward initials for Ein fest Burg, the covert Theme to the Enigma Variations. This cryptogram is called the Mendelssohn Quotations Elimination Cipher. It is significant because it hints at the Romanza Cipher, another elimination key based on canceling out the six discrete note letters of the three Mendelssohn quotations from the covert Theme's three-word title, Ein feste Burg. The remaining letters are an anagram of TURIN S, a veiled reference to the Turin Shroud.
The Mendelssohn Quotations Elimination Cipher is an intriguing discovery because of both its simplicity and the inverted order of the plaintext initials. A mapping of Ein feste Burg “through and over” the Enigma Theme verifies that it is a retrograde counterpoint in which the covert Theme plays backward above Elgar’s original score. The reverse order of the encoded initials points to this retrograde solution. To learn more concerning the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.