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He was a close friend of Elgar's, giving him useful advice but also severe criticism, something Elgar greatly appreciated. Elgar later related how Jaeger had encouraged him as an artist and had stimulated him to continue composing despite setbacks. In Elgar told Dora Penny "Dorabella" that this variation is not really a portrait, but "the story of something that happened".

He referred to Ludwig van Beethoven , who had a lot of worries, but wrote more and more beautiful music.

Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 'Enigma'

Elgar disclosed to Dora that the opening bars of "Nimrod" were made to suggest that theme. Only a hint, not a quotation. This variation has become popular in its own right and is sometimes used at British funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions. A version was also played during the Hong Kong handover ceremony in and at the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. An adaptation of the piece appears at the ending of the film Dunkirk as part of the score. Dora Penny, a friend whose stutter is gently parodied by the woodwinds. Dora, later Mrs.

She was the recipient of another of Elgar's enigmas, the so-called Dorabella Cipher. This variation features a melody for solo viola. George Robertson Sinclair , the energetic organist of Hereford Cathedral. In the words of Elgar: "The variation, however, has nothing to do with organs or cathedrals, or, except remotely, with G.

EDWARD ELGAR: Variations on an Original Theme, op. 36, "Enigma"

The first few bars were suggested by his great bulldog, Dan a well-known character falling down the steep bank into the River Wye bar 1 ; his paddling upstream to find a landing place bars 2 and 3 ; and his rejoicing bark on landing second half of bar 5. I did; here it is. Basil George Nevinson, an accomplished amateur cellist who played chamber music with Elgar. The variation is introduced and concluded by a solo cello. The drums suggest the distant throb of the engines of a liner, over which the clarinet quotes a phrase from Mendelssohn's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

Elgar may have withheld Lady Mary's initials because of superstition surrounding the number 13, [15] or he may have felt uneasy about publicly associating the name of a prominent local figure with music that had taken on a powerful emotional intensity. Elgar himself, nicknamed Edu by his wife, from the German Eduard. The themes from two variations are echoed: "Nimrod" and "C. Elgar called these references "entirely fitting to the intention of the piece". The original version of this variation is nearly bars shorter than the one now usually played.

In July , one month after the original version was finished Jaeger urged Elgar to make the variation a little longer. After some cajoling Elgar agreed, and also added an organ part.

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The new version was played for the first time at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival , with Elgar himself conducting, on 13 September The word "Enigma", serving as a title for the theme of the Variations , was added to the score at a late stage, after the manuscript had been delivered to the publisher. Despite a series of hints provided by Elgar, the precise nature of the implied puzzle remains unknown. Confirmation that Enigma is the name of the theme is provided by Elgar's programme note " Enigma, for so the theme is called" [1] and in a letter to Jaeger dated 30 June he associates this name specifically with what he calls the "principal motive" — the G minor theme heard in the work's opening bars, which perhaps significantly is terminated by a double bar.

Elgar's first public pronouncement on the Enigma appeared in Charles A. Barry's programme note for the first performance of the Variations :. 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 late dramas — eg Maeterlinck 's L'Intruse and Les sept Princesses — the chief character is never on the stage.

Far from clarifying matters, this utterance seems to envelop the Enigma in further mysteries. The phrase "dark saying" can be read straightforwardly as an archaic synonym for enigma but might equally plausibly be interpreted as a cryptic clue, while the word "further" seems to suggest that the "larger theme" is distinct from the Enigma, forming a separate component of the puzzle. Elgar provided another clue in an interview he gave in October to the editor of the Musical Times , F.

Edwards, who reported:. Mr Elgar tells us that the heading Enigma is justified by the fact that it is possible to add another phrase, which is quite familiar, above the original theme that he has written. What that theme is no one knows except the composer. Thereby hangs the Enigma. Five years later, Robert Buckley stated in his biography of Elgar written with the composer's close cooperation : [27].

The theme is a counterpoint on some well-known melody which is never heard. Attempted solutions to the Enigma commonly propose a well-known melody which is claimed to be either a counterpoint to Elgar's theme or in some other way linked to it. Musical solutions of this sort are supported by Dora Penny and Carice Elgar's testimony that the solution was generally understood to involve a tune, [29] and by the evidence from an anecdote describing how Elgar encoded the solution in a numbered sequence of piano keys.

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The interpretation placed on the "larger theme" forms the basis of the grouping of solutions in the summary that follows. Julian Rushton has suggested that any solution should satisfy five criteria: a "dark saying" must be involved; the theme "is not played"; the theme should be "well known" as Elgar stated multiple times ; it should explain Elgar's remark that Dora Penny should have been, "of all people", the one to solve the Enigma; [29] and fifthly, some musical observations in the notes Elgar provided to accompany the pianola roll edition may be part of the solution.

Furthermore, the solution if it exists "must be multivalent, must deal with musical as well as cryptographic issues, must produce workable counterpoint within Elgar's stylistic range, and must at the same time seem obvious and not just to its begetter ". Elgar accepted none of the solutions proposed in his lifetime, and took the secret with him to the grave. The prospect of gaining new insights into Elgar's character and composition methods, and perhaps revealing new music, continues to motivate the search for a definitive solution. But Norman Del Mar expressed the view that "there would be considerable loss if the solution were to be found, much of the work's attraction lying in the impenetrability of the riddle itself", and that interest in the work would not be as strong had the Enigma been solved during Elgar's lifetime.

‎Edward Elgar - Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' Op - A Full Score on Apple Books

Solutions in this category suggest a well-known tune which in the proponent's view forms a counterpoint to the theme of the Variations. A few more solutions of this type have been published in recent years. In the following three examples the counterpoints involve complete renditions of both the Enigma theme and the proposed "larger theme", and the associated texts have obvious "dark" connotations. U is himself.

There is a theory that Elgar was also remembering his broken engagement to a Worcester violinist, Helen Weaver, who contracted tuberculosis and emigrated to New Zealand in The word was added to the score only about a month before the first performance, written in pencil by Jaeger. Did he mean a well-known tune or an abstract theme like friendship? We shall never know, but that stops no one trying to guess.

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What matters most is the magic of the music—which never stales, always sounds fresh—and the mastery of the orchestration. After the first performance Jaeger said he thought the work ended too abruptly and that Richter agreed with him. Elgar was riled but on 12 July supplied a revised, more grandiose, ending, adding 96 bars and providing an optional organ part. Both endings are included on this recording. Elgar had a special affection for it and it was one of the last two works he conducted in the recording studio in The central Larghetto, with its sustained mood of elegiac nobility, is the strongest pointer in early Elgar to the writer of the slow movements of the symphonies.

Edward Elgar : Variations on an Original Theme 'Enigma' for piano Op. 36 (1899)

Like the Variations, it shows Elgar as a master of orchestration. Its multiplicity of themes depict cheeky Cockneys, lovers in the parks, and a military band. He conducted the first performance in London on 20 June At the same time he sketched a companion piece but did not complete it until the end of February just after finishing the full score of the Enigma Variations.

He made orchestral versions of both pieces at the end of and it is in this form that they have proved most popular. Nevinson et W. U est le compositeur en personne. I visited him this past August. Padgett, 47, is a meticulous man. He slicks his dark blond hair straight back. He wears slender black gloves in the heat of the Texas sun to protect his violin-playing fingers.

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He uses the proofreading software Grammarly to catch typos and lazy vocabulary in his correspondence. He still recalls the fascination that descended on him during orchestra rehearsals, when he learned some of the backstory about the Variations. Like Padgett, Elgar once made his living teaching violin. A young Elgar tagged along as his dad tuned pianos and rehearsed in a local orchestra in the English countryside; a young Padgett grew up in northern California spending evenings at Monterey Symphony concerts in the front row, where his mother kept an eye on him from the violin section on stage.

Neither Elgar nor Padgett studied music professionally. Padgett majored in psychology at Vassar, and took counterpoint and composition classes for fun. Padgett composed music, too. The Variations had turned Elgar, until then a small-town composer and violin teacher, into an international sensation. Padgett demonstrated it for me as we drove to Whole Foods for breakfast.

He played the opening of the Enigma Variations on his car stereo, and hummed the nursery rhyme in a minor key along with it. It sounded awful. And none of them would. It was very frustrating. But he kept at it. His wife, Heather, found him used library books about Elgar, and he pored over articles. Following a tip from the book, he set off looking for anomalies in the Enigma Variations that he could grab onto to find the mystery melody.

He started with one variation that is not like the others. Padgett wondered: Did Elgar quote Mendelssohn to hint that Mendelssohn himself had once quoted the mystery melody? Then he thought: Did Mendelssohn ever quote any famous tunes in his music? In fact, Mendelssohn did, in a number of his works.

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  4. In between music lessons, Padgett filled two notebooks with attempts to find hidden codes in the music. None did. I asked my father, who studied math and music theory in college, to read through the blog post with me, and it took us about an hour to understand it. In frequency analysis, a code breaker identifies the most repeated letters and letter groupings in a coded message, and substitutes them for the most common letters and letter groupings in the language in which the code was written.