Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his Holiness.
Elgar the Cryptographist
The composer Edward Elgar was a self-taught expert in cryptography, the discipline of coding and decoding secret messages. His obsession with that esoteric art merits an entire chapter in Craig P. Bauer’s book Unsolved! Bauer devotes most of the third chapter to Elgar’s meticulous decryption of an allegedly insoluble Nihilist cipher by John Holt Schooling from the April 1896 issue of The Pall Mall Magazine. Elgar was so pleased with his solution that he specifically mentions it in his first biography published in 1905 by Robert J. Buckley. Elgar painted his solution in black paint on a wooden box, an appropriate medium as the Nihilist cipher is based on a Polybius square cipher.
Elgar summarizes his detailed decryption on a set of nine index cards. On the sixth card, he relates the task of cracking the cipher to “. . . working (in the dark).” His use of the word “dark” as a synonym for a cipher is significant as he employs that same language in the original 1899 program note to describe the Enigma Theme. It is an oft-cited passage that merits revisiting because Elgar lays the groundwork for his three-part riddle:
The Enigma I will not explain – its ‘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…So the principal Theme never appears, even as in some later dramas – e.g., Maeterlinck’s ‘L’Intruse’ and ‘Les sept Princesses’ – the chief character is never on the stage.
A compulsion for cryptography is a reigning pillar of Elgar’s psychological profile. Over a decade of analyzing the Enigma Variations has netted over one hundred cryptograms in diverse formats that encode a set of mutually consistent and complementary solutions. Although that figure may seem extraordinary, it is entirely consistent with Elgar’s lifelong fascination with ciphers. More importantly, the solutions give concrete 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 foundation for the ensuing movements? Answer: Ein feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress) by Martin Luther. What is the “dark saying” hiding within the Enigma Theme? Answer: A musical Polybius cipher in the opening six bars. Who is the secret friend and inspiration behind Variation XIII? Answer: Jesus Christ, the Savior of Elgar’s Roman Catholic faith. The cryptographic evidence supporting these discoveries is diverse yet mutually consistent, multivalent, and decisive. Such a vast cache of cryptograms confirms the Enigma Variations embody Elgar’s musical homage to cryptography.
A recurring feature of some of Elgar’s ciphers is their proximity to double barlines, particularly those conspicuously near the beginning or end of a movement. A double bar usually indicates the end of a movement or section, making those near the beginning or end of a movement seem out of place. A double barline at the end of the Enigma Theme’s sixth measure sequesters a number of intriguing ciphers. Encased within those opening six bars are the Psalm 46, Locks, and Polybius ciphers. Based on this pattern, a double barline just two bars into Variation XII suggests the presence of cryptograms. What follows is the detection, description, and decryption of a matrix of ciphers at Rehearsal 52.
The Rehearsal 52 Ciphers
Some cryptograms situated near double bar lines in the Enigma Variations divulge Elar’s initials or name. Is there evidence for this pattern in the two-bar introduction to Variation XII segregated by a double barline? That movement opens at Rehearsal 52 with a plaintive cello solo in bars 465-466 accompanied by the divisi violas and tutti cellos. In those opening two measures, there are precisely two notes identified with the letter E. The lower violas play an E-flat in bar 465 which is followed in bar 466 by an E natural played by the upper violas. The notes E-flat and E present a coded form of Elgar’s initials (EE).
The half note E-flat in bar 465 performed by the lower violas is slurred a half step down to a whole note D in bar 466. The note letter sequence “E-flat-D” spells Ed, the short form of Elgar’s first name Edward. A cryptanalysis of bars 465-465 reveals they encode Elgar’s initials (EE) and first name (Ed) using notes in the divisi viola part. This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 “EE” and “ED” Note Letters Cipher. This cipher is reprised in bars 491-492, bookending Variation XII with Elgar’s initials and first name. There is an autobiographical element to these ciphers as Elgar played and taught viola. The dedicatee of Variation VI, Isabel Fitton, was one of his viola students.
The divisi viola accompaniment to the cello solo at Rehearsal 52 encodes Elgar's initials and first name. This is consistent with his penchant to attach his initials or name to some cryptograms in the Enigma Variations. Elgar clearly liked to autograph his work. Could a coded form of his initials allude to other initials in the introduction to Variation XII? The accompaniment in bar 465 consists of a C minor triad played by the tutti cellos (C) and divisi violas (G and E-flat). As previously observed, the E-flat forms the first letter in Elgar’s initials (EE) and name (ED). Like the labels on the score for the violas and cellos, the performance directions for the accompaniment — divisi and tutti — are in Italian.
Elgar was an accomplished concert violinist who owned a fine Italian violin made by Nicòla Gagliano. As a professional violinist, Elgar was certainly aware of the famous luthier Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri. One of the most renowned violinists in history, Niccolò Paganini, played a 1743 Guarneri and gave it the nickname “Il Cannone” (The Cannon). After 1731, Guarneri added “del Gesù” (“of Jesus” in Italian) to his labels. For this reason, these remarkable instruments are attributed to Guarneri “del Gesù.” Elgar was undoubtedly familiar with the Italian translation of Jesus. Elgar inscribed “A. M. D. G.” as a dedication for his major sacred works, an acronym of the Latin motto for the Society of Jesus. Those four letters signify the phrase “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For the greater glory of God). The mother church in Rome for the Jesuits is called the Church of the Gesù. Elgar’s knowledge of the Italian translation of Jesus permits decrypting the note G played by the upper violas in bar 465 as the initial for “Gesù” (Jesus). The initial for “Cristo” (Italian for “Christ”) is given by the open C string played by the tutti cellos in bar 465. The lowest (C) and highest (G) notes of the C minor chord in bar 465 encode the initials for Gesù Cristo, the Italian translation of Jesus Christ. This cryptogram is identified as the Bar 465 C minor triad “GC” Initials Cipher. The same cryptogram recurs in bar 491.
The “GC” Initials Cipher is corroborated by a second cryptogram in bar 465 that encodes the English initials for Jesus Christ using the C minor triad’s harmonic intervals. The tutti cellos play an open C string as the divisi violas complete the C minor triad with an E-flat and G. The harmonic intervals formed by the notes of that chord are a minor tenth (C to E-flat) and a major third (E-flat to G). When the numbers ten and three are converted into their corresponding letters of the alphabet (1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, etc.), they produce the initials for Jesus Christ. The tenth letter of the alphabet is J, and the third letter is C. This cryptogram is labeled the Bar 465 C minor triad Harmonic Intervals “JC” Cipher. Jesus is the secret friend portrayed in Variation XIII. The Roman numerals for that marine movement also encode his initials using the same number-to-letter key (X = J, III = C).
The tempo at Rehearsal 52 is indicated as a quarter at 58 beats per minute. Based on the prevalence of cryptograms in this part of the full score, the numbers were translated into letters of the alphabet using a basic number-to-letter key. The fifth letter is E, and the eighth = is H. These letters are a reverse spelling of “He,” the masculine singular pronoun. When Judas led a team of soldiers to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, Jesus stepped forward and asked, “Whom do you seek?” They replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I am he.” At this, they drew back and fell to the ground as described in John 18:1-9. Jesus used the pronoun “he” at his arrest. Again Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” They again answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He responded, “I told you that I am he.” Twice at his arrest, Jesus referred to himself as “he.” This cryptogram is called the Variation XII Tempo Marking “HE” Cipher.
A tenth is classified as a compound third because the tenth note above the tonic is the same as the mediant or third scale degree. The minor tenth between C and E-flat is a compound minor third. The combination of a compound minor third with a major third is a coded form of the number 33. According to Roman Catholic tradition, Jesus was crucified at the age of 33. That number is also the mirror image of Elgar’s initials (EE) which consist of two capital cursive Es. The harmonic intervals of the C minor triad encode a stealth form of Elgar’s initials with a matching note letter from the central E-flat.
There were three crosses at the crucifixion where Jesus was executed in between two criminals. The performance direction Tutti at the beginning of bar 465 in the lower cello staff has one upper case T and two lower case ts. Three cross-shaped letters in Tutti graphically portray the three crosses at Christ’s crucifixion. The capital letter T is a tau cross which is also known as the crux commissa. Paintings by Jan Van Eyck, Diego Velázquez, and Konrad Witz powerfully portray Jesus hanging on a T-shaped cross. The lowercase ts in Tutti provide the crosses for the crucified criminals to the right and left of Christ.
On the same Tutti cello staff in bar 465 is the dynamic indication pianissimo is indicated as pp. Those dual letters are the initials for Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who presided over the trial and execution of Jesus. The Italian performance direction divisi in bar 465 means “divided.” That term is associated with Christ’s crucifixion because the Roman soldiers divided his garments by casting lots as recorded in Matthew 27:35. The Italian performance directions (Tutti, pp, and divisi) in bar 465 convey coded allusions to the death of Jesus. Elgar’s emphasis on Italian terms reflects the historical link between Italy and the Roman Empire. This cryptogram is called the Bar 465 Italian Performance Directions Crucifixion Cipher.
Another prominent signpost at Rehearsal 52 that points to the symbol of the cross is its time signature. Variation XII is set in common time (4/4) with four quarter beats per bar. This time signature may be signified by a capital “C” which is the initial for common time. “C” is also the initial for Christ. Four movements from the Enigma Variations are conducted in 4/4 time: The Enigma Theme, Variation I (C. A. E.), Variation V (R. P. A.), and Variation XII (B. G. N.). As demonstrated by Leonard Slatkin, that meter is conducted in a pattern that replicates the sign of the cross. Christians cross themselves as a ritual blessing, a practice shared by Roman Catholics and Lutherans. Elgar was born, educated, married, and buried as a Roman Catholic. He crossed himself as a common practice of his faith. There are a variety of coded references to the cross in the Enigma Variations.
The evocative cello solo at the beginning and end of Variation XII spotlights the two descending sevenths from the Enigma Theme. Elgar drew special attention to those falling sevenths in the Enigma Theme with the obscure comment, “The drop of a seventh in the Theme (bars 3 and 4) should be observed.” Two melodic sevenths intimate seventy-seven, a number connected to Christ. Using a basic letter-to-number key (1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C), the letters from “CHRIST” convert to 3, 8, 18, 9, 19, and 20 respectively. The sum of those numbers is 77. According to the genealogical record in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was the 77th generation from Adam. When Jesus talked about the necessity to forgive others, Peter inquired if he should forgive another up to seven times. Jesus replied, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Consequently, the two descending sevenths are a coded hint regarding the name, birth, and ministry of Elgar’s anonymous friend. These nuanced theological allusions to Jesus are consistent with William H. Reed’s admission that Elgar’s “. . . knowledge of the Bible and the Apocrypha was profound.” This cryptogram is known as the Variation XII Cello Solos “77” Christ Cipher.
The introductory cello solo begins and ends with ascending melodic thirds. The first in bar 465 is a major melodic third formed by a B-flat rising to a D. The concluding minor melodic third is produced by an A rising to C. These four note letters are crisscrossing anagrams of BC and AD, recognizable labels on the Julian and Gregorian calendars. BC is the acronym for “Before Christ” and marks the era before the birth of Christ. AD represents the Latin phrase “Anno Domini,” an abbreviated version of the Latin phrase “Anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi” which means “In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Remarkably, the notes of these two rising thirds encode two distinct references to Jesus Christ. Variation XII concludes with the same cello solo that introduces it. Two rising thirds further hint at the resurrection of Christ who rose from the dead at age 33 according to Roman Catholic doctrine. This cryptogram is called the Variation XII Cello Solos Rising Thirds “BC” and “AD” Notes Cipher.
There are four performance directions attached to the principal cello staff in bar 465. Two consist of single terms and the remaining two are two-word phrases.
- ad lib.
- molto express.
The letter p is the initial for the Italian word piano which specifies a quiet dynamic. The Latin phrase ad libitum means to play a passage freely rather than in a strict tempo. The Italian expression molto espressivo translates as “very expressive.” A cryptanalysis of these performance terms found that their first letters generate the acrostic anagram “Es Psalm.” Two lower case “e” glyphs in those performance directions intimate a coded form of Elgar's initials (EE).
Elgar’s wife identifies him in her diary using the initial “E.” This insight permits interpreting “Es” in its possessive form as “E’s.” Consequently, “Es Psalm” may be read as “E’s Psalm” or “Elgar’s Psalm.” This acrostic anagram is obtained from four performance directions on the solo cello staff with a total of six words. The numbers four and six suggest 46, the chapter from the Psalms that motivated Martin Luther to write his rousing hymn Ein feste Burg. The number 46 is also intimated by the position of this cipher in bar 465, a number that begins with 46. This cryptogram is labeled the Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Psalm 46 Cipher.
The cello solo in bar 465 opens with an ascending major third (B-flat to D), followed by a rising major sixth (D to B-flat), and a descending minor seventh (B-flat to C). The numbers of those melodic intervals may be converted into their corresponding scale degrees of G minor, the key of Variation XII. The application of this simple conversion transforms the intervals 3, 6, and 7 into the notes B-flat, E-flat, and F. Those three note letters are an anagram of the initials for Ein feste Burg. This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Melodic Intervals “EFB” Cipher.
Elgar employs a similar formula to encode those identical initials in the Mendelssohn fragments of Variation XIII. That marine movement repeatedly cites an anomalous four-note melodic incipit from a subordinate theme in the overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage with the original German title Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt. The number of times a Mendelssohn fragment is stated in a specific key pinpoints the corresponding scale degree in that particular mode. Two Mendelssohn quotations in A-flat major implicate the second scale degree of that key (B-flat). A single Mendelssohn fragment in F minor implies its first scale degree (F). One Mendelssohn quotation in E-flat major insinuates that mode’s first scale degree (E-flat). Those out-of-place Mendelssohn fragments are a trove of ciphers.
The acrostic anagram “E’s Psalm” on the cello solo staff at Rehearsal 52 is virtually identical to another acrostic anagram ensconced within the Enigma Theme’s first measure. The performance directions in bar 1 yield the acrostic anagram “EEs Psalm.” The dual Es are patently Elgar’s initials. Consequently, this solution may be read as “Edward Elgar’s Psalm.” There are precisely 46 characters in this cryptogram that implicate Psalm 46.
The Enigma Theme and Variation XII share more than virtually identical acrostic anagrams sourced from their performance directions in their opening bars. These movements also have the same tempo marking (Andante), time signature (4/4 known as common time), and key signature (G minor).
The performance directions for the cello solo in bar 465 are in three languages: English, Italian, and Latin. Indeed, all of the performance directions at Rehearsal 52 are in one of those three languages. The initials of those languages present an acrostic anagram of “ELI.” This solution is connected to one of the seven sayings uttered by Jesus as he languished on the cross. Matthew 27:46 records his fourth saying in the original Aramaic as, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” The translation reads, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That Aramaic phrase forms the opening sentence of Psalm 22.
The opening of Psalm is famously set to music in the Saint Matthew’s Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. Elgar revered Bach’s music and setting of “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” Above the orchestral introduction to Part V. “Golgotha” of his oratorio The Apostles premiered in 1903, Elgar wrote “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” The evidence is overwhelming that he was obviously familiar with the Aramaic word Eli. Therefore, the acrostic “ELI” obtained from the three languages of the performance directions in bar 465 cannot be casually dismissed as a fortuitous formation. This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 “ELI” Cipher.
The acrostic anagram “Eli” is a huge linguistic clue about Elgar’s secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. This is not an isolated instance of Elgar relying on three languages to encipher the acrostic anagram “Eli.” He encodes that identical Aramaic word using three languages for the organ label on the 1899 autograph score of the Enigma Variations. The organ label consists of six words in three different languages. The first word “Organo” is in Italian. The second (ad), third (lib.), and fourth (tacet) are in Latin. The remaining two words (till Finale) are in English. The initials of these three languages are an acrostic anagram of “ELI”: Italian, Latin, and English.
The word Psalm is encoded in bar 465 as an acrostic anagram by the performance directions on the principal cello staff. The three languages of those terms yield a second layer of encryption that enciphers “ELI” as another acrostic anagram. Psalm and Eli are related because Psalm 22 begins with the Aramaic word “Eli.” That chapter number is suggested in at least two ways in bar 465. The first hinges on the performance terms for the principal cellist that consist of two single words (Solo and Piano) and tw0 dual-word expressions (ad libitum and molto espressivo). A second way is suggested by the rhythmic structure of the cello solo that begins with two eighth notes followed by two quarter notes. The number two is also emphasized by the placement of a two-bar cello solo at the beginning (465-466) and end (491-492) of Variation XII. A casual observer would likely not give these duplet references to the number two a second thought. This cryptogram is known as the Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Psalm 22 Cipher.
The performance directions in bar 465 for the principal cellist may be represented without abbreviations as shown below:
Notice that these six performance terms have precisely 33 letters. The numbers six and thirty-three are associated with the crucifixion of Christ. According to Roman Catholic tradition, Jesus was 33 years old when he was crucified on a Friday, the sixth day of the week. These numeric parallels with the death of Jesus are wholly consistent with the linguistic anagram “ELI” from his fourth saying on the cross.
Rehearsal 52 is at bar 465. When the separate numerals (5, 2, 4, 6, and 5) from those two numbers are converted into letters using an elementary number-to-letter key (1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, etc.), they generate E, B, D, F, and E. Three of those letters furnish in reverse order (E, B, D, F, and E) the initials for Ein feste Burg. This retrograde pattern is found in other ciphers in the Enigma Variations. The remaining letters (E, B, D, F, and E) spell Ed, a short form of Edward and the first two initials from Elgar’s Variation XIV (E. D. U.). His wife coined the pet name “Edoo” using the first three letters of Eduard, the German rendering of Edward. The Rehearsal 52 Bar 465 cipher encodes Elgar’s nickname accompanied by the German initials of the hidden melody. These decryptions divulge Elgar’s stealth signature on the correct melodic solution. This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 “EFB” and “ED” Ciphers.
A penchant for inversion is observed in an assortment of Elgar’s cryptograms. He spells his surname backward in the anagram “Craeg Lea.” The Latin word for light (LUX) is enciphered as a backward acrostic in the short score title of Variation XIII. The Mendelssohn Fragments Scale Degrees cipher encodes the initials for Ein feste Burg in reverse order as “BFE.” The Program Note Maeterlinck Phrase cipher spells the word “Psalm” as a backward acrostic. The prevalence of this retrograde structure is a recurring motif among Elgar’s diverse ciphers. Their similar encryption methods and decryptions are mutually consistent and confirmatory. More significantly, this backward pattern is consistent with a retrograde mapping of the covert melody “through and over” the Enigma Theme.
It was shown how the numbers for Rehearsal 52 at bar 465 encode the initials for Ein feste Burg accompanied by Elgar’s first name. The initials for the covert Theme are also encoded in bar 466 by notes modified by accidentals. In that measure, there are three note types with three different accidentals: F-sharp, E natural, and B-flat. The sharp and natural appear on the viola staff. The B-flat on the cello solo staff is specified by the key signature. These three notes appear in close proximity on adjacent staves, and their letters generate an anagram of the initials for Ein feste Burg. Three notes with three distinct accidentals is also a coded form of Elgar’s initials because the glyph for three (3) is the mirror image of his capital cursive E. This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 “EFB” Accidentals Cipher.
The encoding of the acrostic anagram “E’s Psalm” in bar 465 invites an assessment of the note letters in that measure for prospective anagrams. Before proceeding with the analysis, it is critical to recognize that Elgar’s correspondence is characterized by unconventional phonetic spellings. Some notable examples are listed below:
- Bizziness (business)
- çkor (score)
- cszquōrrr (score)
- fagotten (forgotten)
- FAX (facts)
- frazes (phrases)
- gorjus (gorgeous)
- phatten (fatten)
- skorh (score)
- SSCZOWOUGHOHR (score)
- Xmas (Christmas)
- Xqqqq (Excuse)
- Xti (Christi)
Bar 465 has a total of seven written notes dispersed over three staves: Two B-flats, two Cs, an E, D, and G. This note total is significant because the number seven is tied to the sevenfold I AM statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Other cryptograms in bar 465 encipher the Italian and English initials for Jesus Christ and his age of death. When treated as an anagram, these note letters may be reshuffled to form “E CC GD BB.” “E” is the initial for Elgar. Similar to his respelling of “excuse” as “xqqq,” “CC” may be read in the plural as “Cs” which is a homonym of sees. The anagram “GD” is a common phonetic spelling of God. The first part of this anagram (E CC GD) encodes the phonetic phrase “E sees God.” This cryptogram is called the Bar 465 Note Letters Anagrams Cipher.
Why would Elgar encipher the expression that he saw God? The Enigma Variations contain coded references to the Turin Shroud, an ancient linen burial cloth that bears the faint images of a crucified man whose wounds match those from the Gospel account about Jesus. Secondo Pia took the first official photographs of that sacred relic in May 1898, five months before the genesis of the Enigma Variations. As he developed the glass photographic plates in his darkroom, Pia made the startling discovery that the image on the linen cloth was a photographic negative. Pia’s photographic epiphany quickly became an international sensation in the secular and Catholic press. Many believed the positive images on the photographic plates faithfully captured the crucified body and face of Jesus. Elgar’s enciphered allusions to the Turin Shroud confirm he believed its miraculous photographic negative faithfully represented the face and body of the crucified Christ. A core tenet of Christianity is the doctrine that Jesus is the incarnation of God in human form. For Roman Catholics like Elgar, gazing at the bruised and battered visage of Jesus is akin to seeing God’s face.
|Pia’s Photographic Negative of the Turin Shroud Face Area|
|Comparison of the Shroud Face Area with Its Photographic Negative|
Five note letters in bar 465 encode the phonetic anagram “E CC GD” which may be read as “Elgar sees God.” The remaining two note letters are two Bs. The number two sounds like to, and the letter B is a homonym of the verb be. Consequently, “BB” is an ingenious rendering of the verb “to be.” There is a mysterious name for God based on that verb given in the Exodus account. When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he inquired about God’s name. The Lord answered, “I AM WHO I AM” which was abridged to “I AM.” Theologians refer to this divine name as the Great I AM. “I AM” is the first person singular conjugation of “to be.” Elgar clarifies the identity of the Deity he sees by encoding “to be” (BB) with “God” (GD). Filtering the Rehearsal number 52 through a number-to-letter key (1 = A, 2 = B, 3= C, etc.) transforms 52 into "EB," a reverse spelling of be.
The significance of the phonetic anagram “BB” is confirmed by another cipher in bar 465. Elgar encodes “I AM” in that measure by converting the rhythmic pattern of the cello solo into International Morse Code. Elgar was familiar with Morse Code and coined the palindromic telegraph address SIROMORIS for his residence at Severn House. The cello solo begins with two eighth notes followed by two quarter notes. The duration of a quarter note is equal to two eighth notes. Converting that rhythmic pattern into International Morse Code yields two dots (I) followed by two dashes (M). “I M” is a phonetic realization of “I AM.” The cello finishes the introductory solo in bar 466 with the rhythmic pattern reversed to round out a palindrome. The Morse Code decryption for bars 465-466 “IM MI” is a phonetic anagram of “I AM [who] I AM.” This cryptogram is called the Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo “I AM” Cipher. This cipher appears at the start and finish of Variation XII. There is a theological explanation for this structure. In Revelation 22:13, Jesus calls himself “the beginning and the end.”
The cello solo in bar 466 starts with a harmonic A descending by a major seventh to B-flat that falls a minor second to A and rises a minor third to C. Remarkably, these note four letters replicate the ABA’C structure of the Enigma Theme.
When read in reverse order, these four notes are “C A B-flat A.” It was previously observed that the letter C is a homonym of see. The flat symbol is the lower case b, the initial for the Italian word bemolle. The notes A, B-flat, and A spell Abba, the Aramaic word for “Papa” and “Daddy.” Mark 14:36 records how Jesus called God “Abba” on the eve of his crucifixion when praying in the Garden of Gestheme. The chapter and verse numbers for Mark 14:36 are conspicuous because the Enigma Variations has fourteen movements numbered by Roman numerals and the opus number 36. Remarkably, the cello solo in bar 466 encodes the phrase “See Abba” in conjunction with the divine name “I AM.”
Based on the findings in bar 465, an analysis of note letters in the next measure for potential anagrams was conducted. There are nine notes in bar 466 dispersed over three staves. These note letters may be arranged into a cross-shaped configuration to produce the intersecting anagrams “DEAD,” “FACE,” and “EFB.” The initials “EFB” represent the covert Theme. Bars 465-4-66 encode the initials for Ein feste Burg in multiple ways, bolstering the veracity of this anagram. The lyrics of Luther’s most renowned hymn settle the debate regarding the identity of Elgar’s secret friend memorialized in Variation XIII. In the second stanza of Ein feste Burg, Luther’s holy hero is announced in the original German lyrics as, “Er heißt Jesus Christ.” The English translation is, “He is called Jesus Christ.” Multiple coded references to Jesus and his crucifixion provide the framework for interpreting the “DEAD FACE” anagram as a reference to Christ. This cryptogram is called the Bar 466 Note Letters Anagrams Cipher.
The cross-shaped triple anagram formed by note letters in bar 466 reveals where the “DEAD FACE” of Elgar’s friend was last seen in public. Jesus was crucified publicly on a Roman cross, and a lance was run through his heart to verify his demise. Jewish custom requires the covering of the face after death. The linen cloth that covered the face of Christ shortly after his execution is the Sudarium of Oviedo. The AB human blood on the Sudarium is the same as that tested on the Turin Shroud. Bloodstains on the Sudarium are also a precise match to those on the Turin Shroud, proving forensically that these two cloths covered the same body. The Mendelssohn fragments in Variation XIII encode “A Strong Tower” using a musical Polybius cipher. That title is one of the translations of Ein feste Burg. The 6-by-6 cipher key unveils the phrase “One Sweat Rag.” This is an apt description of the Sudarium because its Latin translation means “sweat cloth.”
Elgar commemorates the entombment of Jesus in Variation XIII using a calm sea as a symbol of death. This is a theologically nuanced metaphor because Jesus likened his three-day burial to the Sign of Jonah when that prophet spent three days and nights in the belly of a great fish. The Roman numerals XIII graphically portray the cross and three nails, key elements on the official seal of the Jesuits. The subtitle Romanza presents a clever wordplay on Romans, the governmental authority that presided over and carried out the crucifixion of Jesus. Variation XIII opens with the melody note G descending a perfect fourth to D, producing a phonetic spelling of God. Three Mendelssohn quotations parallel the three days and nights Jesus spent in the tomb. In bars 496-97, the word “DEAD” is spelled twice by sequential double bass notes. These are immediately followed by three statements bars 498-499 of the notes “G-D” in the upper woodwinds, presenting an allusion to the Triune God. This same pattern is repeated in bars 528-531. The “Dead God” portrayed at rest in Variation XIII is the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.
The Mendelssohn fragments that symbolize the sea are in the keys of A-flat major, F minor, and E-flat major. The word sea is a homonym of the letter C. Combining these key letters (A, E, F) with C permits the anagram “FACE.” Pairing the “DEAD” notes sequence from Variation XIII with “FACE” produces the identical solutions uncovered in the Bar 466 Note Letters Anagrams Cipher. It was previously shown how the Mendelssohn fragments encipher the third part of that anagram, the initials for Ein feste Burg. The mutual precision and specificity of these ciphers are extraordinary and illustrate Elgar’s mastery of cryptography.
Like the fourteen variations that follow the Enigma Theme, there are fourteen stations of the cross. This connection is enhanced by the recognition that variations rhyme with stations. Station XII commemorates when Christ died on the cross. An encoding of “DEAD” in the introduction to Variation XII implicates the twelfth station of the cross. The Aramaic word Eli is encoded as an acrostic anagram by the three languages found in bar 465: English, Latin, and Italian. Shortly before he died, Jesus cried out “Eli” at the ninth hour which is 3 pm. In a striking parallel, there are nine written notes in bar 466. The number nine is also associated with the cello solo that spans a minor 9th from the high B-flat in bar 465 to the low A in bar 466. The path that Jesus walked on the day of his crucifixion is known in Latin as the Via Crucis. The cello staves are labeled with the abbreviation “Vcl.” The first two letters of “Vcl” are the initials for Via Crucis. This interlocking series of cryptograms is called the Rehearsal 52 Station XII of the Cross Cipher.
Double barlines with anomalous positions in the Enigma Variations serve as signposts for cryptograms. A double bar after the second measure in Variation XII conforms to this pattern, triggering a careful analysis of the full score at Rehearsal 52. The ensuing investigation uncovered seventeen different ciphers with some recapitulated in bars 491-492 at the end of Variation XIII:
- Rehearsal 52 “EE” and “ED” Note Letters Cipher
- Bar 465 C minor triad “GC” Initials Cipher
- Bar 465 C minor triad Harmonic Intervals “JC” Cipher
- Variation XII Tempo Marking “HE” Cipher.
- Bar 465 Italian Performance Directions Crucifixion Cipher
- Variation XII Cello Solos “77” Christ Cipher
- Variation XII Cello Solos Rising Thirds “BC” and “AD” Notes Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Psalm 46 Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Melodic Intervals “EFB” Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 “ELI” Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo Psalm 22 Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 “EFB” and “ED” Ciphers
- Rehearsal 52 “EFB” Accidentals Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 Cello Solo “I AM” Cipher
- Rehearsal 52 Station XII of the Cross Cipher
- Bar 465 Note Letters Anagrams Cipher
- Bar 466 Note Letters Anagrams Cipher
This interlocking network of ciphers encodes a discrete and specific set of solutions concerning the covert principal Theme and the anonymous friend depicted in Variation XIII. Coded versions of Elgar’s initials and first name appear in bars 465-466 and 491-492 of the divisi viola staff. His stealth stamp of authenticity mirrors other cryptograms in the Enigma Variations bearing his initials or name. The prevalence of initials (e.g., EE, EFB, GC, JC, BC, and AD) among the solutions is consistent with the majority of the titles from the Enigma Variations which are also initials. Some solutions evince phonetic spellings, a prominent feature of Elgar’s correspondence.
Certain descriptions were evidently designed to be integrated and unveil a more complete resolution. The Morse Code transcription of the cello solo's rhythmic pattern in bar 465 is “I M,” the phonetic equivalent of the divine name “I AM.” The application of a number-to-letter key (5 = E, 8 = H) to the tempo marking “58” at bar 465 yields a reverse spelling of “HE.” Pairing the decryption “I AM” with “HE” generates the phrase “I am he.” This is the answer given twice by Jesus to those who came to arrest him at the Garden of Gethsemane. The secret friend whom we seek in the Enigma Variations is Jesus.
Four performance directions consisting of six words appear on the principal cello staff in bar 465. These terms form an acrostic anagram of “E’s Psalm.” The number of performance directions (4) and their words (6) implicate Psalm 46, a chapter known as “Luther’s Psalm” due to its association with Ein feste Burg. Confirmation of this solution is afforded by other cryptograms in this section of the score that encode the initials “EFB.” The solution “E’s Psalm” resonates with another nearly identical acrostic anagram in the performance directions of the Enigma Theme’s opening measure that spells “EE’s Psalm.” The discrete performance directions in bar 1 have precisely 46 characters, specifying the 46th Psalm.
The specificity and precision of these cryptograms erase any lingering doubt regarding the solutions to the Enigma Variations. Tugging on the dangling thread posed by the unusually placed double barline so close to the beginning of Variation XII unraveled scores of cryptograms. Elgar’s skillful application of cryptography in the Enigma Variations is a neglected field of research that merits wider recognition and study. The decryptions resolve previously unanswered questions and further our understanding of his creative process. To learn more concerning the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my free eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.
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