The essence of beauty is unity in variety.
A growing body of research confirms the covert principal Theme to Elgar’s Enigma Variations is the famous hymn A Mighty Fortress (Ein feste Burg) by Martin Luther. An ingenious alphanumeric cipher embedded in the Mendelssohn fragments of Variation XIII encode the initials for Ein feste Burg: E. F. B. The key to cracking this cipher is to use the number of times a given key fragment is stated to pinpoint the corresponding degree of its scale. There are eight notes in a scale, and each is numbered 1 through 8. There are four Mendelssohn fragments stated in three distinct keys: A flat major, F minor, and E-flat major.
There are two Mendelssohn fragments in A-flat major. The second degree of the A-flat major scale is B-flat. The third Mendelssohn fragment in F minor appears only once. The first degree of the F minor scale is F. The fourth and final Mendelssohn fragment in E-flat is also played one time. The first letter in the E-flat major scale is E-flat. With each fragment composed of the last three notes of the descending version of each scale, another way of approaching the decryption is to simply count the discrete note letters of a given fragment in reverse order based on the number of times a fragment is stated in a given key.
Three of the Mendelssohn fragments are enclosed in quotations because they, like the source material, are in the original major mode. The fourth fragment appears in minor and lacks quotations because it deviates from the major mode. There is another less obvious explanation for why this minor fragment lacks any quotation marks. There are a total of twelve notes enclosed in three sets of quotations, a remarkable coincidence since Ein feste Burg is also three words long and has a total of twelve letters. Elgar's use of quotations around three of the Mendelssohn quotes serves to signal the number of words and letters in the title of the covert Principal Theme. Elgar's allusions to various German artists (e.g., Mendelssohn, Goethe, and Joachim) further hint that the missing title's language is in German and three words long. The common title for A Mighty Fortress is Ein feste Burg. The total number of letters in the names Mendelssohn, Goethe, and Joachim is 24, the same in the full title of Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott. Twenty-four also happens to be the same number of notes in the opening six measures of the Enigma Theme, the very place Elgar encoded his "dark saying," an ingenious Music Box Cipher.
The Mendelssohn Cipher reveals that Elgar cleverly enciphered the missing initials for the covert Theme's title, sealing the case for “EFB” as the solution letters to the mysterious three asterisks. It is incredibly symbolic these initials are encoded in reverse order because the covert melodic theme plays as a retrograde counterpoint “through and over” the Enigma Theme. What academics presumed represented the secret friend are in reality the initials for a popular hymn that names that famous person in the second stanza. To discover the identity of his secret friend and inspiration for Variation XIII, read (✡ ✡ ✡). To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed. Please support my original research by becoming a sponsor on Patreon.
If Elgar was a devout Christian why would he choose a Lutheran theme?
Among Christian leaders Martin Luther was clearly one of the most musical and inventive, for he composed many hymns to promote the gospel message. He actively encouraged singing in the vernacular at church services, a subject near and dear to the heart of Elgar as shown by his numerous sacred cantatas and oratorios. Luther's most famous hymn - 'Ein feste Burg' - is quoted in the works of the great German masters (e.g., J.S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, and Richard Wagner), composers whom Elgar revered and emulated in his writing.
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