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Friday, July 17, 2020

Elgar's Bridge Passages Enigma Ciphers


I have in the Variations sketched ‘portraits’ of my friends — a new idea I think  — that is each variation I have (looked at) the theme through the personality (as it were) of another Johnny  —  ask Jaeger about this.

Edward Elgar

This is the seventh article in a series that surveys a cornucopia of cryptograms in three bridge passages from the symphonic Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar. A section in classical music that elides one movement into another is called a bridge passage. These three bridge passages add up to nine measures and comprise less than one percent of the full score. The preliminary four articles catalog assorted cryptograms in the first bridge passage (bars 18-19) that begins at Rehearsal 2 and links to Variation I (C. A. E.). The first essay covers the Opus Dei Cipher. The second discusses the Psalm 46 Ciphers. The third describes the Tau Cross Ciphers. The fourth addresses other interrelated word ciphers embedded within the performance directions of the first bridge passage. The fifth presents a series of cryptograms in the second bridge passage (bars 185-188) that starts four bars before Rehearsal 19 and links Variation V (R. P. A) to Variation VI (Ysobel). The sixth article explores fourteen cryptograms ensconced within the third bridge passage (bars 306-309) in Variation XIII (W.N.) that connects to Variation IX (Nimrod).

These cryptograms illustrate Elgar’s expertise in cryptography, a subject that merits an entire chapter in Craig P. Bauer’s treatise Unsolved!  A decade of concerted analysis has netted over ninety cryptograms in diverse formats that encode a set of mutually consistent solutions that furnish definitive answers to the core questions posed by the Enigma Variations. What is the secret melody to which the Enigma Theme is a counterpoint and serves as the melodic cornerstone of each movement? Answer: Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by Martin Luther. What is Elgar’s “dark saying ensconced within the Enigma Theme? Answer: A musical Polybius box cipher situated in measures 1-6. Who is the secret friend and inspiration behind Variation XIII? Answer: Jesus Christ, the Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith.

Three Bridge Passages Opus 36 Cipher

This article will identify and decrypt cryptograms formed collectively by the three bridge passages. The first is constructed from the number of movements linked together by bridge passages. Three bridge passages connect six movements from the Enigma Variations. These totals are a coded allusion to the opus number (36), and the tempo marking (63) for the Enigma Theme, Variation I (C.A.E.), and Variation V (R.P.A.). All of the movements in common time are associated with the first and second bridge passages.

Three Bridge Passages Cross Cipher

There are numerous coded allusions to the cross within the Enigma Variations. For example, there are fourteen stations of the cross, the route that Jesus walked on his way to the crucifixion. Likewise, there are fourteen variations assigned Roman numerals. Jesus was executed by the Romans at reportedly the age of 33, and there are precisely 33 Roman numerals in the titles of Variations I through XIV. The Enigma Theme, Variations I, V, and XII are written in common time. The pattern used to conduct common time replicates the sign of the cross. A bridge section represents a crossing point. Consequently, three bridge passages may be interpreted to symbolize three crosses. That is significant as there were three crosses at the execution of Christ where he was crucified between two criminals.

The John 2:19 Ciphers

There are coded allusions to the numbers 2 and 19 in the first and second bridge passages. The first bridge passage starts at Rehearsal 2 and ends in bar 19. The first bridge passage begins at Rehearsal 2, and the second bridge passage ends at Rehearsal 19. These two numbers hint at the chapter and verse of John 2:19. How is it possible to connect the numbers 2 and 19 to “John” when Elgar never refers to that name in any of the titles from the Enigma Variations? Elgar wrote in a letter from February 1899, “I have in the Variations sketched ‘portraits’ of my friends — a new idea I think  — that is each variation I have (looked at) the theme through the personality (as it were) of another Johnny  —  ask Jaeger about this.” In this passage, Elgar links the name “John” with all of the variations. That name intimately associated with the ministry of Jesus because he was heralded and baptized by John the Baptist.

There is a famous incident where Jesus was confronted by the religious authorities in Jerusalem. They demanded a sign of his divine authority to reprimand and chase out the corrupt money changers from the Temple. Jesus replied in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This response confused the religious elites as they thought he was referring to the Temple that took over 40 years to build. Through this dark saying, Jesus actually meant that he would raise himself from the dead three days after his execution. John 2:19 is a prophecy about the death and resurrection of the Messiah. These allusions to the chapter and verse of John 2:19 within the first and second bridge passages are part of a larger pattern of coded references to the cross and Jesus within the Enigma Variations.

Three Bridge Passages “See Ed” Cipher

There are two bars in the first bridge passage, four in the second, and three in the third. Each bridge passage connects to the first bar of the ensuing movement, resulting in the addition of one extra bar to each bridge passage to complete the link. That increases these bar totals to three, five, and four. When the numbers 3, 5, and 4 are converted into their corresponding letters in the alphabet using a number-to-letter key (1 = a, 2 = b, 3 = c, etc…), they produce the plaintext C, E, and D. The letter C is a homonym of see, a word with Edward Elgar’s initials (EE). The letters ED is the short form of Edward.  CED is a coded version of the phrase, “See Ed.” The name “Ed” is encoded in all three bridge passages.

The sums of the bars from these three passages plus the extra linkage bar to the next movement are remarkable for another reason. The sequence and quantity of the letters in the three-word title Ein feste Burg are also 3, 5, and 4. This raises the possibility that Elgar may have enciphered these letters in those three bridge passages in bars 18-20 (EIN), bars 185-189 (FESTE), and bars 306-309 (BURG). The note tied over the barline into measure 309 is G, lending circumstantial evidence for this hypothesis. That is the first measure of Rehearsal 33 where the third bridge passage concludes, and the last letter in Ein feste Burg is also G. Further research is required in this area before a determination can be made.

Three Bridge Passages Six-Letter Titles Cipher

There are six movements connected by bridge passages into pairs:

  • The Enigma Theme is linked by the first bridge passage (bars 18-19) to Variation I (C.A.E.)

  • Variation V (R.P.A.) is connected by the second bridge passage (bars 185-188) to Variation VI (Ysobel)

  • Variation VIII (W.N.) is tied by the third bridge passage (bar 308) to Variation IX (Nimrod)

These six movements may be categorized into two subgroups based on their titles. Three of the movements are given names (Enigma, Ysobel, Nimrod) that each possesses six letters. The remaining three titles consist of initials (C.A.E., R.P.A., and W.N.). There is an intriguing acrostic anagram involving the three bridge movements with six-letter titles:

  • Enigma (Theme)

  • Ysobel (VI)

  • Nimrod (IX)

The first letters of those three movements in order of appearance spell EYN, a phonetic rendering of EIN. Ysobel is a nickname for the dedicatee, Isabel Fitton. That nickname is a version of Isabel, a realization that permits the substitution of I for Y. This results in EIN, the first word in the covert Theme’s German title. The first three letters of Enigma (a German word) are also an anagram of Ein.

When the Roman Numerals VI and IX are combined with the initial T from Theme, it produces an anagram of VIXIT. This is a conjugation of the Latin verb Vivere (to live) which means, “He lived.” This word appears extensively in the genealogies of the Latin Vulgate beginning with Genesis 5:3. This Latin conjugation in the past tense indicates that the person had lived and then died. Such a reading intersects with the dedication of Variation XIII to Jesus who died at Calvary.

Three Bridge Passages Initials Ciphers

Three of the six movements linked together by bridge passages have biblical names that form an anagram of the first word in covert Theme’s German title. The remaining three titles consist of three sets of initials:

  • C.A.E.

  • R.P.A.

  • W.N.

Before embarking on a cryptographic analysis of these initials, it is important to recognize that Elgar employed inventive spellings in his personal correspondence. Some examples of these phonetic variants are listed below:

  1. Bizziness (business)

  2. çkor (score)

  3. cszquōrrr (score)

  4. fagotten (forgotten)

  5. FAX (facts)

  6. frazes (phrases)

  7. gorjus (gorgeous)

  8. phatten (fatten)

  9. skorh (score)

  10. SSCZOWOUGHOHR (score)

  11. Xmas (Christmas)

  12. Xqqqq (Excuse)

  13. Xti (Christi)

An appreciation of this aspect of Elgar’s writing style permits a consideration of phonetic spellings within the initials C.A.E., R.P.A., and W.N. Below is one breakdown of two possible anagrams from these initials:

  • CANA

  • PWER

Thes dual encoding of the name “CANA” with “PWER,” a phonetic rendering of power, hints at the first miracle of Jesus. Multiple lines of research corroborate that Jesus is the secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII who first demonstrated his divine power at the wedding feast at Cana by miraculously transforming ceremonial water into exquisite wine. A phonetic rendering of wine is formed by the initials of Variation VIII (W.N.). 

Two other possible letter combinations from this same subgroup of initials are shown below:

  • CRWN

  • PANE

CRWN is a phonetic version of crown with the circular letter O absent. PANE is a phonetic spelling of pain. Jesus was tortured by his Roman captors when they fashioned a crown of thorns and pounded it down on his head with a wooden cane. Could these phonetic decryptions simply be an elaborate case of confirmation bias? Or are these converging solutions centered on a narrow set of interlocking answers the more logical explanation?

These three movements with titles consisting of initials may be contemplated with their corresponding Roman numerals: 

  • I. C. A. E.

  • V. R. P. A.

  • VIII. W. N.

When the eight initials and six Roman numerals (ICAE VRPA VIIIWN) are analyzed collectively for possible anagrams, one astonishing solution emerges from the meaningless tangle of gibberish: VICAR VIA WINE PI.

The word Vicar is defined as an ecclesiastical agent such as a bishop or priest. The Bishop of Rome is the pope who is known as the Vicar of Christ. The term Vicar is a revealing clue that divulges the identity of the secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII.

The term Via is remarkable because the path that Jesus walked as he carried his cross to Golgotha is called the Via Dolorosa, Latin for the “Sorrowful Way.” This circuitous route begins at the Antonia Fortress and passes nine stations of the Cross before arriving at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The path that Jesus crossed features nine stations of the cross, and similarly, the third bridge passage ends at Variation IX. According to Roman Catholic tradition, Jesus was crucified at the age is 33. Variation IX begins at Rehearsal 33. There are fourteen stations of the cross with the remaining five within the church. This presents a parallel with the Enigma Variations that has fourteen movements assigned Roman numerals from I through XIV.

The word wine is theologically important because the first recorded miracle performed by Jesus was to turn water into wine. At the Last Supper, Jesus instructed his disciples to drink ceremonial wine representing his blood in perpetual remembrance of his supreme sacrifice.

The term PI is significant because a rounded form of that mathematical constant (3.142) is enciphered by the melodic intervals of the Enigma Theme in bars 1 and 11. This important cryptographic discovery was achieved by Richard Santa and published in Columbia University’s journal Current Musicology. That unique number represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. A musical Polybius box cipher encodes the name “Jesus” in the first bar of the Enigma Theme. Pairing the decryptions of the Pi cipher in bar 1 with the Music Box Cipher produces the phrase “Pi Jesus.” This is a variant of “Pie Jesu (Pious Jesus) from the final couplet of the Dies Irae that has been set to music by such composers as Luigi Cherubini and Gabriel Fauré.

Three Bridge Passages EFB Cipher

The first bridge passage is two measures in length (bars 18-19) and begins at Rehearsal 2. The Rehearsal number and sum of the bars in this first bridge passage place an emphasis on the number two. The second letter in the alphabet is B. This is further suggested by the first and last melodic notes in the first bridge passage that are B and B-flat. The second bridge passage begins four bars before Rehearsal 19 and connects Variation V to VI. The Roman numerals of these associated movements represent the numbers 5 and 6. The fifth and sixth letters in the alphabet are E and F.  The first and second bridge passages encode the initials for the covert Theme, Ein feste Burg.

Variation I is the first movement with a Roman numeral preceded by a bridge passage. The conversion of the Roman numeral I to its corresponding letter in the alphabet produces A. That is the first word in the English title of the covert Theme: A Mighty Fortress.  The position of the Roman numeral I in the score is directly above the A in the initials C.A.E.

The third bridge passage begins three bars before Rehearsal 33 and connects Variation VIII to IX. The Roman numerals of these movements stand for the numbers 8 and 9. The eighth and ninth letters in the alphabet are H and I. The letters HI are a phonetic spelling of “High.” One English translation of Ein feste Burg is High Tower and Stronghold is our God by B. P. Whittingham in J. H. Hopkins’ Songs, Hymns and Carols published in 1882. The letters HI allude to the first word in this translation of covert Theme’s title.

Concluding Remarks

This overview identified seven different cryptograms formed by the three bridge passages of the Enigma Variations. These ciphers encode a discrete set of answers that relate incisively with the covert Theme and secret friend of the Variations.  The discovery of any of these cryptograms in isolation could be comfortably written off as a coincidence. However, the sheer number of ciphers in these three bridge passages cannot be conveniently attributed to chance or confirmation bias, particularly as they encode a discrete set of interlocking answers. These coded patterns betray a grand design and Elgar’s genius for cryptography. To learn more about the innermost secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar's Enigmas Exposed.

Soli Yah Gloria


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About Mr. Padgett

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Mr. Padgett studied violin with Michael Rosenker (a student of Leopold Auer), 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.