A German clue to Elgar’s Enigma?

A German clue to Elgar’s Enigma?


norman lebrecht

September 26, 2021

You decide.

We’re just the whiteboard.



  • Sixtus says:

    I’m sure by now that others have commented that the linked YouTube video has nothing to do with the Enigma Variations, despite the clickbait headline. It concerns an letter-puzzle Elgar sent to ‘Dorabella,’ one of those persons depicted in the Variations. The solution presented to this puzzle is convincing. It is possible there that there is a musical connection between the puzzle and Variations (Elgar did say that of all people Dorabella should have figured it out) but such a connection is not explicitly claimed made in the (rather poorly executed) video.

  • Ed Walters says:

    The Enigma I’m convinced has been solved by a guy called Ed Newton-Rex, a Cambridge alum; it’s Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. Classic FM made a thing of it a while back, works for me. https://amp.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/news/young-composer-solves-enigma/

  • The conjecture there could be a coded connection between the number of semicircles in the Dorabella Cipher with similar shaped cursive letters (M, m, U, u, W, and w) from the German lyrics to “Ein feste Burg” (A Mighty Fortress) is deeply flawed. The primary reason for this assessment is that such an approach overlooks other similarly shaped cursive letters such as C, c, E, and n. When those glyphs are factored into the analysis, it severs the alleged numeric link between the Dorabella ciphertext and semicircular letters from the lyrics of Martin Luther’s celebrated hymn. Such a tangential theory is the product of cherry-picking the data rather than conducting an objective analysis.

    Some entertain a link between the Dorabella Cipher and the Enigma Variations because Elgar dedicated Variation X to Dora Penny. The problem with this suspicion is that the timeline is out of sync. The Dorabella Cipher was produced on July 14, 1897. Elgar did not start work on the Enigma Variations until October 21, 1898. 465 days separate the genesis of the Dorabella Cipher and the Enigma Variations, a gap that cannot be bridged by a contrived connection with the famous hymn “Ein feste Burg.”

    The basis for contemplating “Ein feste Burg” as a prospective solution to the Dorabella Cipher is that four-note fragments of that famous hymn are quoted in Variation X. The following video documents this revealing clue that should have not escaped the notice of an Anglican Rector’s daughter:


    A detailed analysis of the contrapuntal mapping of “Ein feste Burg” through and over Variation X is available at:


    Elgar surreptitiously cites these melodic snippets in Variation X because “Ein feste Burg” is the covert principal Theme to the Enigma Variations. My formal paper “Evidence for ‘Ein feste Burg’ as the Covert Theme to Elgar’s Enigma Variations” is available at:


    Scores of cryptograms in the Enigma Variations authenticate “Ein feste Burg” as the secret melody. Elgar was an expert in cryptography. The discovery of so many ciphers is consistent with his expertise in that field. A list of these ciphers with links to explanatory articles is posted at:


    • La plus belle voix says:

      The closer you look at something the more you see what is not there to see. As in the wood and the trees, or conspiracy theorists, the 9/11 event and The Da Vinci Code. If one tries hard enough, anything can be made to fit anything else.

      • The old “conspiracy theorist” canard is brazenly unoriginal and intellectually slothful. To advance such a vacuous assertion is prima facie evidence of confirmation bias, the very infraction you so freely accuse others of committing.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          Then please explain why the b natural of Ein feste Burg does not fit the Dm 6/5 chord on the first beat of measure 6 of Enigma.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    Oh no, not this old chestnut again?! If there is a real Enigma, something I very much doubt, then Elgar took the mystery to his grave. He loved japes and puzzles and knew the british public were suckers for a good old mystery and probably delighted in leading everyone up the garden path. As a devoted – and well-read – Elgarian, I left that path many years ago. Although, if pushed, I think Joseph Cooper’s 1990s Dorabella/Mozart explanation comes the closest to solving any possible musical mystery in that the notes of the ‘Enigma’ theme can be found in the slow movement (Andante) of Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 in D major, K. 504 (“Prague”) within bars 35 to 38 and, with more relevance, in bars 123 to 126 where the key is G major which shares the same G minor/major key of Elgar’s Variations.
    As for the ‘dark saying which must be left unguessed’, I rather think he meant death. Death of the dearly loved ‘friends pictured within’ who Elgar constantly relied on for support throughout his life must have been a thought in his mind as it is with us all; although, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the actual friends pictured – or more accurately caricatured, quite cruelly in some cases – within were mostly his wife’s friends.
    It is always worth remembering that Elgar’s original title for this work was merely ‘Variations on an Original Theme’. The word ‘Enigma’ was later added to the original manuscript by his publisher, August Jaeger, famously Nimrod of Variation 10, on Elgar’s instruction.
    We should let this rest with Elgar now and just love and appreciate this work for the masterpiece that it is.

  • Stweart says:

    Was Alan Turing a pupil of Elgar ?

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    The Nimrod tune is the never-never-shall-be bit of Rule, Britannia. Could someone with an ear for these things say whether the opening theme of Enigma is the same notes in the minor?

    • La plus belle voix says:

      The first six notes at “never, never, never” are b’, g’, c”, a’, d”, c” (pitches in Helmholtz); those of the Enigma theme itself are b flat’, g’, c”, a”, (rest), d”, b flat’. So only the first five notes fit, as the interval between the fifth and sixth pitches in “Rule, Britannia” forms a major second, and in Enigma a major third. As for Nimrod, the interval between the fifth and sixth pitches is a perfect fourth, so there is no real fit. Finally, yes, the Enigma theme is in G minor, and “Rule, Britannia” in G Major. Essentially, however, there is just a passing resemblance and “Rule, Britannia” is not the answer. Elgar did quote the tune in “The Music Makers”, along (interestingly but not tellingly) with Nimrod.

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        Thank you. I have been trying to find the source of bits of the Enigma Variations in Rule, Britannia ever since I read that he told Dora Penny that she, above all people, should have solved the puzzle–and the penny of those days had Britannia on the rear side.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          Glad you maintain such curiosity. Pity that “Rule, Britannia” does not fit the criterion of a “dark secret” to which Elgar alluded.

    • Elgar acknowledged that the silent Principal Theme to his Enigma Variations plays “through and over” each movement as a counterpoint. The following contrapuntal mapping of Mendelssohn’s version of “Ein feste Burg” above Variation IX (Nimrod) complies with this stipulation:


      In his video essay “The Mystery Behind Elgar’s Enigma”, composer Barnaby Martin acknowledges the efficacy of this contrapuntal mapping:


      This mapping was also presented at the BBC Proms by David Owen Norris and Dr. Kate Kennedy:


      No other alleged melodic solution has ever been successfully mapped as a counterpoint above Variation IX (Nimrod). The persuasive contrapuntal mapping of “Ein feste Burg” above Nimrod is unprecedented, placing Luther’s most famous hymn in a class of its own.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Well, I guess if you mash together three famous versions of the tune “Ein feste Burg” (Luther, Bach and Mendelssohn), and play the latter backwards, then mangle the rhythmic values to force them to fit, as well as alternating between major and minor to make it harmonize, then of course it will fit, as would “Way down upon the Swanee River”, eventually.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        PS: The first beat of measure 6 in Nimrod is a chord of D minor. In this case it is the mediant of B flat Major (in turn the dominant of the home key E flat Major because Elgar has modulated there). You choose however to superimpose the b natural of Ein feste Burg on that chord, making a root position 6/5 in a minor key. Although the b natural anticipates the b natural in the inner voices (viola and cello) on the next beat , the actual harmony there is a second inversion, i.e. 6/4 chord, of G Major, which acts as the dominant to C minor, the relative minor of the home key E flat Major. Your solution patently does not fit for harmonic reasons. It is “cooked” so to speak.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    Please see Video Description:
    In the Dorabella Cipher, “a small dot appears after the fifth character on the third line”….I believe that the “asterisk” (dot) refers to Martin Luther’s attributed statement “Here I stand”.
    The “dot” (“i” or “I”) corresponds to Strophe 4, (line one, between the fifth and sixth word) where the German word for “stand” is “stehn”, “stahn”, or “stehen”. “Ich stehen”, or “I stand”.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Yes, pretty obvious really, as is my pet theory that the dot, or “Punkt” in German, is explained as crossing the /t/ of the later wave of Punk music predicated by Elgar himself.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Still waiting for a response from Mr. Padget about that 6/5 chord on the mediant of the dominant of the tonic (III of V of I). An answer came there none.

  • SoCalFanthumbs says:

    I have discerned that the time signature for “A Mighty Fortress is our God” (written in 1529) is 2/2. This timing is first displayed by Martin Luther’s usage of the “cut common” time symbol ₵. The parabolic symbols (“half-circles”) may refer to every two beats in the bar/measure, there are 2 half notes. Coincidently, when you count each half-circle by two’s, you end up with 85 sets of 2 semicircles. Although, according to Phil Gehring:
    Other tunes have a fairly constant meter but make use of syncopation in order to accentuate certain text syllables. Our beloved “A Mighty Fortress” proceeds in duple meter (2/2) with prominent syncopations, until its mid-section, where half-notes march resolutely on, frustrating any attempt to find a metrical pattern. The final phrase returns to 2/2-with-syncopations. (https://reporter.lcms.org/2012/wheres-the-time-signature-playing-the-rhythmic-chorales/)

    Please see “Elgar’s Puzzles” Facebook group for further reference:

  • SolCalFanThumbs says:

    I think I figured out what the “semicircles” or “parabolas” symbolize in Edward Elgar’s “Dorabella Cipher” {“The cipher, consisting of 87 characters spread over 3 lines, appears to be made up from 24 symbols, each symbol consisting of 1, 2, or 3 approximate semicircles oriented in one of 8 directions (the orientation of several characters is ambiguous)”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorabella_Cipher}.
    The number ten in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics is represented by an upside-down “U” glyph (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_numerals). The 170 “U” shaped characters represent the Roman numeral “X”, 170 times. Imagine Elgar using his conductor’s baton to whimsically conduct his Variation X. In a sense, he repeated “Dorabella” one hundred-seventy times within the cipher! The sound is quite memorable. Elgar represented this sound in his “Enigma Variations”. Specifically, Enigma Variations: X. Dorabella-Intermezzo-Allegretto.
    Elgar substituted the Egyptian hieroglyphic upside-down “U” for the Roman numeral “X” (Variation: “X”), in order to make his “cipher” incredibly elusive, yet meaningful.
    I am guesstimating that the orchestra’s size and setting were, or are comprised of 87 musicians, and 24 instruments (For example, per Wikipedia, Enigma Variations is scored for an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B♭, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in F, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, side drum, triangle, bass drum, cymbals, organ (ad lib) and strings.) during the performance of Variation: X. Dorabella-Intermezzo-Allegretto.
    The 170 semicircles within the “Dorabella Cipher” conforms to my logic that the German letters: M, m, n, U, u, W, and w are located within Martin Luther’s hymn, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”.
    In addition, Mr. Robert Padgett’s meticulous treatment of locating Martin Luther the Reformer’s “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” within Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36”, combined with my interpretation of the “Dorabella Cipher”, demonstrates that there resides a direct connection between Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”, and his 1897 cipher to Dora Penny.
    It is my opinion that Elgar created a cipher with multiple correct solutions (https://www.reddit.com/r/crypto/comments/55fxl6/a_cipher_with_multiple_correct_solutions/).
    Furthermore, it is my opinion that the principal theme remains to be discovered.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    The dot appearing on or above the number 7 in Elgar’s date July 1’4, 97′ refers to the number seven in Martin Luther the Reformer’s 95 Theses written in 1517 (October 31, 1517)

    Again, the date July 1’4, 97′ is made up of 8 characters, the dot between 1’4 is part of the “i” in Mart”i”nus (Latin for Martin)

    I looked for many online Edward Elgar’s dated signatures and notice they were all complete… Either “1897” or “1917” etc., …the centuries were included. The century in July 1’4, 97′ is not included.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    It is my opinion that Edward Elgar’s principal hidden theme is still undiscovered. I believe a clue that can leads us to the elusive main theme is within his “Dorabella Cipher”. “The cipher, consisting of 87 characters spread over 3 lines, appears to be made up from 24 symbols, each symbol consisting of 1, 2, or 3 approximate semicircles oriented in one of 8 directions (the orientation of several characters is ambiguous). A small dot appears after the fifth character on the third line.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorabella_Cipher)
    “The Enigma I will not explain,” Elgar wrote in a cryptic note in the concert playbill. “Its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed.” Then he added this: “… over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes,’ but is not played…”( https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2018/03/15/593771944/elgars-enigma-still-keeps-music-detectives-busy)

    It is also my opinion that Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem, to the Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45”, is the other and principal theme that Elgar hid from his musical connoisseurs.

    For example, the orchestra’s setting for “A German Requiem” is as follows: “In addition to soprano and baritone soloists and mixed chorus. “A German Requiem” is scored for: woodwind: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and contrabassoon (ad libitum) brass: 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba.”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_German_Requiem_(Brahms)

    The three lines that make up the “Dorabella Cipher” also may refer to how a particular orchestra’s setting is arranged in Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requeim”.
    We can exclude that the main hidden theme resides in Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”, because Elgar used all four main sections in an orchestra: the strings, the woodwind, the brass, and the percussion to create “Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36”(October 1898-February 1899). For example, per Wikipedia, Enigma Variations is scored for an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B♭, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in F, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, side drum, triangle, bass drum, cymbals, organ (ad lib) and strings.)
    In contrast, Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem” only uses three symphonic musical parts. He used vocals, woodwind, and brass.
    Or, perhaps the three lines in the “Dorabella Cipher can also represent the “Trinity” (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).
    Not related, but perhaps important, keep in mind that Johannes Brahms wrote his “Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102” in the summer of 1887 (per Wikipedia). For example, “Finally, seeking to repair the damage, Brahms composed the “Double” Concerto as a peace offering; the effort was successful, although their camaraderie of former years was never fully restored.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMurNzAAcLA&list=RDGMurNzAAcLA&start_radio=1
    Almost a decade later Brahms dies on April 3, 1897. About three months later Edward Elgar gives Dora Penny the “Dorabella Cipher”. Afterwards, Edward Elgar composed the “Enigma Variations” in tribute to his friends.
    I believe Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”, and his reference to a “hidden theme” (“A German Requiem”) was his way of saying “have faith” in your friends, and above all, have faith in God.
    Truthfully, now that I have chosen to tackle the “Enigma Variations” principal hidden theme, I definitely have my work cut out for me. My musical foundation is almost nil. I am not sure if Brahms’ “German Requiem” is the hidden theme. My ears hear the interplay, but technically it would take me a couple of lifetimes to figure out if the counterpoint exist on paper, or not. Thank you for your time, and consideration.
    Please advise.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    My apologies with all the excitement and anticipation, I left out this one tidbit.
    In regards Elgar’s July 1’4. 97’ date, I forgot to explain what one of the dots may symbolize or refer to. Specifically, the third dot. Not the small dot appearing after the fifth character on the third line. Nor the second (1’), or fourth (7’) dots. Specifically, the dot that appears after the number 4. Was Elgar in such a haste that he used a period, instead of a comma? Was this a punctuation error? I think not. Especially, when you tie the actual date “14” to his “Enigma Variations”. How clever Elgar was to have purposely given the “Cipher” to Dora Penny on the same day (numerical value) that represented his 14 variations. The “Enigma Variations” was not only dedicated to her, but to his other thirteen friends as well. Coincidence, or haste? I think not. Please advise. Thank you.


  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    Elgar’s “significant number” is “170”.
    Undoubtedly, Elgar gave Miss Dora Penny the cipher in question, knowing she would be able to decrypt the July 1’4. 97’ note. {“The cipher, consisting of 87 characters spread over 3 lines, appears to be made up from 24 symbols, each symbol consisting of 1, 2, or 3 approximate semicircles oriented in one of 8 directions (the orientation of several characters is ambiguous)”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorabella_Cipher}.
    The only numbers and symbols that I believe that may be related to each other when referring to the “Dorabella Cipher” may be located at Mr. Padgett’s blog where he has a “facsimile of one of Elgar’s surviving notebooks”(http://enigmathemeunmasked.blogspot.com/2022/02/spotting-spanish-in-elgars-dorabella.html).
    Interestingly, the facsimile comprises of four circles. Each circle is partitioned into 24 parts. Each circle is configured differently, but still containing 24 parts. Three circles seemed to be in one group. Whereas, the fourth circle is located apart from the three. Moreover, Elgar displays the 24 symbols and correlates each one to the English alphabet. He also has the numbers 1,2,3,4 and 4 together. It looks like he was devising his own encryption. Could this be the key for the “Dorabella Cipher?
    Coincidently, when you use arithmetic and combine the numbers 87,24,8,3, and 3, a significant number appears. One hundred-seventy is the same number of semicircles within the “Dorabella Cipher”, and the same number of German letters: M, m, n, U, u, W, and w found within Martin Luther’s hymn, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    Could this be the key for the “Dorabella Cipher? Yes.
    The two page “facsimile of one of Elgar’s surviving notebooks” found at Mr. Padgett’s blog (http://enigmathemeunmasked.blogspot.com/2022/02/spotting-spanish-in-elgars-dorabella.html), I believe is part key/clue to solving the “cipher”. It looks like he was devising his own encryption. Upon further scrutiny of the second page,
    I notice that Elgar wrote: “DO YOU GO TO LONDON TOMORROW?23”. He then utilizes straight lines to “count” each letter. If you include the question mark, he actually created 24 characters to make up his interrogative. Furthermore, he indicated that there are “9 o’s” within this sentence. Also, on this second page, he has the numbers 1,2,3,4 and 4 together. At first, I thought this might reference the time signature for some unknown piece. If you add 1+2+3+4+4 we get the number “14”. “Fourteen variations”! Or, you can take the number fourteen from the number of remaining letters used to form his sentence. Notice, he only used the letter “U” once in the sentence. Or perhaps twice, if you consider the pronunciation of “YOU” to be phonetically similar to the pronunciation of the letter “U”. Fascinating!
    Was this question referring to June 19, 1899, when his “Enigma Variations” was performed at St. James’s Hall in London, conducted by Hans Richter? Or, on numerous occasions when he was about to perform his repertoire of music to a London audience?
    What is unusual about the vowel (O) in his plaintext, is that a line protrudes directly below this letter nine times in the sentence.
    I believe Elgar was indicating that the vowel O, is a clue of how he wanted us to find the “U” shapes in Martin Luther’s “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”. The 170 semicircles within the “Dorabella Cipher”, was his way of encrypting plaintext (the vowel), but cleverly using the same “vowel” as the ciphertext. Brilliant!
    For me, it’s like the American T.V. game show, “The Wheel of Fortune”. The contestant is given a clue (category, topic, or theme), then at some point during the game, the player is asked for only vowels that might be found in the puzzle. Finally, the participant tries to decipher the “hidden phrase”.
    In Elgar’s “cipher”, I believe he expected Dora Penny to be familiar with “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in both English, and German.
    Where does the “significant number” 170 appear on this “facsimile”? First, you have to add 9+4+4=17. Next, I use my imagination. We know that Elgar substituted the Ancient Egyptian number “U” (10), for the Roman numeral “X”, (10). If you look closely to Elgar’s letter “O”, it looked like he altered the letter to partially resemble the Ancient Egyptian number zero. When I connected the first “drawn line” protruding from the first “O” in the sentence, leading to the altered “o” next to the number nine; I perceived “the symbol nfr (), meaning beautiful”, (per Wikipedia). I used this “zero”, (Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic number “nefer”) to complete the “significant number”, “170”. Coincidently, I notice that the symbol “nfr” contains a cross that resembles a Christian cross (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5997046/).
    Thank you for your time, and consideration.

  • There are four anomalous dots on the Dorabella Cipher. These dots encode the Latin abbreviation “AMDG” (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam). Elgar wrote those initials on some of his musical scores. To learn more, check out my article “Elgar’s Dorabella Dots ‘AMDG’ Cipher” at http://enigmathemeunmasked.blogspot.com/2022/02/elgars-dorabella-dots-dedication-cipher.html

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    D o Y o u G o T o L o n d o n T o m o r r o w(23 letters) ?=24 (characters)
    A M i g h t y F o r t r e s s i s O u r G o d= 23 letters (characters)
    E i n F e s t e B u r g i s t u n s e r G o t t=24 (charactrers)
    (*Correction: I learned that the time signature for the “Enigma Theme” is 4/4!).
    I believe Edward Elgar gave us multiple tasks “involving words, numbers”, and music. Although we may never crack the code, we share the common experience of learning more about Elgar, his music, and puzzle solving.
    I would like to further explain where a second example of Elgar’s “significant number” 170 may reside within the two pages (facsimile) found at Mr. Robert Padgett’s blog http://enigmathemeunmasked.blogspot.com/2022/02/spotting-spanish-in-elgars-dorabella.html.

    On the first page we have a total of “unused” 95 semicircles. Also, the first page has 28 “semi-squares”. If you notice Elgar used the divided circle to devise his “cipher”. He actually divides the “square” by using an X. When doing this, he created four triangles. The “rectangular U” is never used in the “Dorabella Cipher”, or his given interrogative sentence. I believe he is hinting that this configuration is not to be used. Hence, it is a quantity (28) that can be subtracted. He then used his 24 semicircles to spell his interrogative on the second page. So, we will not use the intended 24 characters.
    On the second page he wrote down 114 “unused” semicircles. Finally, there are three examples where the number eleven can be detected:
    • “Each symbol consisting of 1, 2, or 3 approximate semicircles oriented in one of 8 directions”, (Wikipedia) 8+3=11
    • Add all the lines made up of semicircles from both pages (11).
    • Use your imagination, and pluck out two lines from any of the partitioned circles on page one. The two “plucked” lines standing side by side look like the number 11.

  • SoCalFanThumbs says:

    I believe I have one more item, or question in regards to another musical rubric within Elgar’s “Enigma Variations”. My deaf tone ears hear a tinge of the song “Ave Maria” within Elgar’s Variation IX (Nimrod). When I synchronized the related songs, I noticed that they were complimentary. Yes, I learned that Elgar specifically used a “hint” of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (“Sonata Pathetique” 2nd Movement), but I believe Elgar composed Nimrod to complement Giuseppe Verdi’s solution to the “Scala Enigmatica” (https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100444153).

    To demonstrate this phenomenon, I accordingly synchronized the following pieces of music:
    o Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathetique”
    o “Ave Maria” sulla scala enigmatica, Giueseppe Verdi
    o “A German Requiem” (2nd Movement, “Denn alles Fleisch est ist wie Gras”), Johannes Brahms
    o “Enigma Variations” IX (Adagio) “Nimrod”, Edward Elgar

    “Requiem or Egg”?


    1014-Nursery Rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, or “My Fair Lady” (https://americansongwriter.com/behind-meaning-of-nursery-rhyme-london-bridge-is-falling-down-lyrics/) (https://themarianblogger.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/my-fair-lady/) (Reference “Ave Maria”)

    1527/1529-“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (German: “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”) is one of the best known hymns by the reformer Martin Luther, a prolific hymnodist. Luther wrote the words and composed the melody sometime between 1527 and 1529” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mighty_Fortress_Is_Our_God)

    1810- Walter Scott’s poem “Lady of the Lake” (Reference “Ave Maria”)

    1825- Franz Schubert’s “Ellens dritter Gesang” (“Ellens Gesang III”, D. 839, Op. 52, No. 6, 1825), in English: “Ellen’s Third Song” (Reference “Ave Maria”) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_Maria_(Schubert)

    1853/1859-Bach/Gounod: “Ave Maria” is a popular and much-recorded setting of the Latin prayer Ave Maria, originally published in 1853 as “Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de J.S. Bach”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_Maria_(Bach/Gounod))

    1865/1868-“A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45 (German: Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift) by Johannes Brahms, is a large-scale work for chorus, orchestra, a soprano and a baritone soloist, composed between 1865 and 1868.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_German_Requiem_(Brahms))

    1886-“Franz Lists Program” encrypted by Edward Elgar.

    1887-Edward Elgar’s “Ave Maria”. (https://www.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/music/ave-maria/) (https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dw.asp?dc=W841_GBAJY0759304)

    1888-Enigmatic Scale: “The enigmatic scale was invented by a professor of music at the Bologna Conservatory, Adolfo Crescentini.[4] On August 5, 1888, Ricordi’s Gazzetta musicale di Milano challenged its readers to compose a piece that harmonized against this scale. The Gazzetta published several solutions to this “scala-rebus” (scale-puzzle), including one by Crescentini, yet the whole affair might have become obscure had not Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi later composed his own solution, which became the basis of the “Ave Maria (sulla scala enigmatica)” (1889, revised 1898), part of the Quattro Pezzi Sacri (1898) [4 sacred pieces]”

    1889-“Ave Maria”, rendition by Giuseppe Verdi.

    1897-“Dorabella Cipher” written on July 14, 1897 by Edward Elgar.

    1898-“Quatro pezzi sacri”:“The first performance in Austria on 13 November 1898 in Vienna was conducted by Richard von Perger and included the Ave Maria,[8] but the two a cappella works were performed by the choir, not by solo voices as Verdi had intended.[4]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quattro_pezzi_sacri)

    1898-Centennial Commemoration of “The Irish Rebellion”.

    1898-1899-Enigma Variations: “Edward Elgar composed his Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, popularly known as the Enigma Variations,[a] between October 1898 and February 1899. It is an orchestral work comprising fourteen variations on an original theme.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_Variations)

    1907-Sir Edward Elgar’s “Ave Maria”revised (1902, 1907). (https://www.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/music/ave-maria/)

    Edward Elgar not only composed the “Enigma Variations” in homage to his companions, but he memorialized them in the same masterpiece. Even today, “Nimrod” is widely used during funeral services. (https://www.udiscovermusic.com/classical-features/elgar-enigma-variations/)

    Is the hidden theme “A Mighty Fortress is our God”, “A German Requiem”, or “Ave Maria”?

    Elgar may have been alluding to the human condition, (when people experience despair). For example, “In 1904 Elgar told Dora Penny (“Dorabella”) that this variation is not really a portrait, but “the story of something that happened”.[8] Once, when Elgar had been very depressed and was about to give it all up and write no more music, Jaeger had visited him and encouraged him to continue composing. He referred to Ludwig van Beethoven, who had a lot of worries, but wrote more and more beautiful music. “And that is what you must do”, Jaeger said, and he sang the theme of the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 Pathétique. Elgar disclosed to Dora that the opening bars of “Nimrod” were made to suggest that theme. “Can’t you hear it at the beginning? Only a hint, not a quotation.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enigma_Variations#Variation_IX_(Adagio)_%22Nimrod%22)

    “Elgar further clarifies this in his 1905 biography: “The theme is a counterpoint on some well-known melody which is never heard.” So the ‘Enigma’ theme is a counterpoint on the hidden melody – not the other way around. This means that the ‘Enigma’ theme should fit over the top of the hidden melody.” (https://www.classicfm.com/composers/elgar/news/young-composer-solves-enigma/)
    By Elgar also hiding “A Mighty Fortress is our God”, he could convey the same despair that Martin Luther the Reformer experienced. For example, “the solution must unveil a “dark saying” (although the composer said it “must be left unguessed”) https://www.jstor.org/stable/25434495
    Using his God given talents, Elgar flexed his ability to apply Giuseppe Verdi’s solution to the “Enigmatic Scale” onto “Variations on an Original Theme Op. 36”. Elgar composed the “Enigma Variations” for prosperity by attaching a web of puzzles to his opus. By doing so, Elgar used the tools of encipherment to entice believers and non-believers alike.