Edward Elgar composed his Variations, Op. 36, popularly known as the Enigma Variations, between October 1898 and February 1899. It is an orchestral work comprising fourteen variations on an original theme.
Elgar dedicated the work "to my friends pictured within", each variation being a musical sketch of one of his circle of close acquaintances (see musical cryptogram). Those portrayed include Elgar's wife Alice, his friend and publisher Augustus J. Jaeger and Elgar himself. In a programme note for a performance in 1911 Elgar wrote:
This work, commenced in a spirit of humour & continued in deep seriousness, contains sketches of the composer’s friends. It may be understood that these personages comment or reflect on the original theme & each one attempts a solution of the Enigma, for so the theme is called. The sketches are not ‘portraits’ but each variation contains a distinct idea founded on some particular personality or perhaps on some incident known only to two people. This is the basis of the composition, but the work may be listened to as a ‘piece of music’ apart from any extraneous consideration. 
In naming his theme ‘Enigma’ Elgar posed a challenge which has generated much speculation but has never been conclusively answered. The Enigma is widely believed to involve a hidden melody.
After its 1899 London premiere the Variations achieved immediate popularity and established Elgar's international reputation. The work has been recorded over 60 times.
- 1 History
- 2 Orchestration
- 3 Structure
- 3.1 Theme (Enigma: Andante)
- 3.2 Variation I (L'istesso tempo) "C.A.E."
- 3.3 Variation II (Allegro) "H.D.S-P."
- 3.4 Variation III (Allegretto) "R.B.T."
- 3.5 Variation IV (Allegro di molto) "W.M.B."
- 3.6 Variation V (Moderato) "R.P.A."
- 3.7 Variation VI (Andantino) "Ysobel"
- 3.8 Variation VII (Presto) "Troyte"
- 3.9 Variation VIII (Allegretto) "W.N."
- 3.10 Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod"
- 3.11 Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) "Dorabella"
- 3.12 Variation XI (Allegro di molto) "G.R.S."
- 3.13 Variation XII (Andante) "B.G.N."
- 3.14 Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) " * * * "
- 3.15 Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro Presto) "E.D.U."
- 4 Arrangements
- 5 The Enigma
- 6 Subsequent history
- 7 Recordings
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Elgar described how after a tiring day of teaching in late October 1898 he was daydreaming at the piano. A melody he played caught the attention of his wife Alice, who asked him to repeat it. So to entertain her he began to improvise variations on the melody in styles which reflected the character of some of his friends. Elgar expanded and orchestrated these improvisations into the Enigma Variations. He considered including variations portraying Arthur Sullivan and Hubert Parry, but was unable to assimilate their musical styles without pastiche, and dropped the idea.
The piece was finished on 18 February 1899 and published by Novello & Co. It was first performed at St James's Hall in London on 19 June 1899, conducted by Hans Richter. Critics were at first irritated by the layer of mystification, but most praised the substance, structure, and orchestration of the work. Elgar later revised the final variation, adding 96 new bars and an organ part. The new version, the one usually played today, was first heard at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival on 13 September 1899, with Elgar conducting.
The European continental premiere was performed in Düsseldorf, Germany on 7 February 1901, under Julius Buths (who would also conduct the European premiere of The Dream of Gerontius in December 1901). The work quickly achieved many international performances, from Saint Petersburg, where it delighted Alexander Glazunov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1904, to New York, where Gustav Mahler conducted it in 1910.
The work is scored for an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 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.
Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within" and in the score each variation is prefaced the initials, name or nickname of the friend depicted. As was common with painted portraits of the time, Elgar's musical portraits depict their subjects at two levels. Each movement conveys a general impression of its subject's personality. In addition, many of them contain a musical reference to a specific characteristic or event, such as a laugh, a habit of speech or a memorable conversation. The sections of the work are as follows.
Theme (Enigma: Andante)
The unusual melodic contours of the G minor opening theme convey a sense of searching introspection:
A switch to the major key introduces a flowing motif which briefly lightens the mood before the first theme returns, now accompanied by a sustained bass line and emotionally charged counterpoints.
In a programme note for a 1912 performance of his setting of Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s ode ‘’The Music Makers’’ Elgar wrote of this theme (which he quoted in the later work), "it expressed when written (in 1898) my sense of the loneliness of the artist as described in the first six lines of the Ode, and to me, it still embodies that sense."
Elgar’s personal identification with the theme is evidenced by his use of its opening phrase (which matches the rhythm and inflection of his name) as a signature in letters to friends.
The theme leads into Variation I without a pause.
Variation I (L'istesso tempo) "C.A.E."
Caroline Alice Elgar, Elgar's wife. The variation repeats a four-note melodic fragment which Elgar reportedly whistled when arriving home to his wife. After Alice's death, Elgar wrote, "The variation is really a prolongation of the theme with what I wished to be romantic and delicate additions; those who knew C.A.E. will understand this reference to one whose life was a romantic and delicate inspiration".
(In these notes Elgar’s words are quoted from his posthumous publication ‘’My Friends Pictured Within’’ which draws on the notes he provided for the Aeolian Company's 1929 pianola rolls edition of the ‘’Variations’’.)
Variation II (Allegro) "H.D.S-P."
Hew David Steuart-Powell. Elgar wrote, "Hew David Steuart-Powell was a well-known amateur pianist and a great player of chamber music. He was associated with B.G.N. (cello) and the composer (violin) for many years in this playing. His characteristic diatonic run over the keys before beginning to play is here humorously travestied in the semiquaver passages; these should suggest a Toccata, but chromatic beyond H.D.S-P.'s liking".
Variation III (Allegretto) "R.B.T."
Richard Baxter Townshend, Oxford don and author of the "Tenderfoot" series of books; brother-in-law of the W.M.B. depicted in Variation IV. This variation references R.B.T's presentation of an old man in some amateur theatricals ‒ the low voice flying off occasionally into "soprano" timbre.
Variation IV (Allegro di molto) "W.M.B."
William Meath Baker, squire of Hasfield, Gloucestershire and benefactor of several public buildings in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, brother-in-law of R.B.T. depicted in Variation III, and (step) uncle of Dora Penny in Variation X. He "expressed himself somewhat energetically". This is the shortest of the variations.
Variation V (Moderato) "R.P.A."
Richard Penrose Arnold, the son of the poet Matthew Arnold, and an amateur pianist. This variation leads into the next without pause.
Variation VI (Andantino) "Ysobel"
Isabel Fitton, a viola pupil of Elgar. Elgar explained, "It may be noticed that the opening bar, a phrase made use of throughout the variation, is an ‘exercise’ for crossing the strings – a difficulty for beginners; on this is built a pensive and, for a moment, romantic movement."
Variation VII (Presto) "Troyte"
Arthur Troyte Griffith, a Malvern architect and one of Elgar's firmest friends. The variation good-naturedly mimics his enthusiastic incompetence on the piano. It may also refer to am occasion when Griffith and Elgar were out walking and got caught in a thunderstorm. The pair ran for it and took refuge in the house of Winifred and Florence Norbury (Sherridge, Leigh Sinton, near Malvern), to which the next variation refers.
Variation VIII (Allegretto) "W.N."
Winifred Norbury, one of the secretaries of the Worcester Philharmonic Society. "Really suggested by an eighteenth-century house . The gracious personalities of the ladies are sedately shown. W.N. was more connected with the music than others of the family, and her initials head the movement; to justify this position a little suggestion of a characteristic laugh is given."
This variation is linked to the next by a single note held by the first violins.
Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod"
Augustus J. Jaeger was employed as music editor by the London publisher Novello & Co. He was a close friend of Elgar, 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. The name of the variation refers to Nimrod, an Old Testament patriarch described as "a mighty hunter before the Lord" – Jäger being German for hunter.
In 1904 Elgar told Dora Penny ("Dorabella") that this variation is not really a portrait, but "the story of something that happened". 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".
This variation has become popular in its own right and is sometimes used at British funerals, memorial services, and other solemn occasions. It is always played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. A version was also played during the Hong Kong handover ceremony in 1997 and at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Musicologist Bill McGlaughlin likens its place in British music to the place Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings holds for Americans. It was also the last piece ever played by the Greek Symphonical Orchestra (besides the Greek National Anthem) when closed down in June 2013.[better source needed]
Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) "Dorabella"
Dora Penny, a friend whose stutter is gently parodied by the woodwinds. Dora, later Mrs. Richard Powell, was the daughter of Canon Alfred Penny, of Lichfield and stepdaughter of Mary, the sister of William Meath Baker, the subject of Variation IV. She was the recipient of another of Elgar's enigmas, the so-called Dorabella Cipher. She described the 'Friends Pictured Within' and 'The Enigma' in two chapters of her book Edward Elgar, Memories of a Variation. This variation features a melody for solo viola.
Variation XI (Allegro di molto) "G.R.S."
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.R.S. 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). G.R.S. said, 'Set that to music.' I did; here it is."
Variation XII (Andante) "B.G.N."
Basil G. Nevinson, an accomplished amateur cellist who played chamber music with Elgar. The variation is introduced and concluded by a solo cello. This variation leads into the next without pause.
Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) " * * * "
Lady Mary Lygon of Madresfield Court near Malvern, a sponsor of a local music festival. "The asterisks take the place of the name of a lady who was, at the time of the composition, on a sea voyage. 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, or he may felt uneasy about publicly associating the name of a prominent local figure with music that had taken on a powerful emotional intensity. There is credible evidence to support the view that the variation’s atmosphere of brooding melancholy and its subtitle ‘Romanza’ are tokens of a covert tribute to another woman, the name most frequently mentioned in this connection being that of Helen Weaver, who had broken off her engagement to Elgar in 1884 before sailing out of his life forever aboard a ship bound for New Zealand.    
Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro Presto) "E.D.U."
Elgar himself, nicknamed Edu by his wife, from the German Eduard. The themes from two variations are echoed: "Nimrod" and "C.A.E.", referring to Jaeger and Elgar´s wife Alice, "two great influences on the life and art of the composer", as Elgar wrote in 1927. Elgar called these references "entirely fitting to the intention of the piece".
The original version of this variation is nearly 100 bars shorter than the one now usually played. In July 1899, 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. The new version was played for the first time at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival, with Elgar himself conducting, on 13 September 1899.
Arrangements of the Variations include:
- The composer's arrangement of the complete work for piano solo
- The composer's arrangement of the complete work for piano duet (two pianos)
- Piano duet (one piano) – by John E. West[n 1]
- Brass band – by composer Eric Ball
- There are many arrangements of individual variations, particularly Variation IX "Nimrod"
- Variation X "Dorabella" was published separately in its orchestral version
- Transcription for Wind Band by Earl Slocum (USA)
- Transcription for Symphonic Wind Band by John Morrison (UK)
- Transcription for the Wanamaker Organ by Peter Richard Conte
- 2013 – Transcription for Symphonic Wind Ensemble by Donald C. Patterson for the United States Marine Band
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 1911 programme note ("... Enigma, for so the theme is called") and in a letter to Jaeger dated 30 June 1899 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. Whatever the nature of the attendant puzzle, it is likely to be closely connected with this ‘Enigma theme’.
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 1900 to the editor of the Musical Times, F. G. 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):
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,  and by the evidence from an anecdote describing how Elgar encoded the solution in a numbered sequence of piano keys.  A rival school of thought holds that the ‘larger theme’ which ‘goes’ ‘through and over the whole set’ is an abstract idea rather than a musical theme.
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; and finally, some musical observations in the notes Elgar provided to accompany the pianola roll edition may be part of the solution.
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.
Possible musical themes
Of the musical themes suggested as the Enigma, one of the most frequently proposed is the Scottish song "Auld Lang Syne", which has been favoured by Elgar's friend Richard Powell (husband of Dorabella), the musicologist Roger Fiske, and the writer Eric Sams. Elgar himself, however, said, "'Auld Lang Syne' won't do." Two British patriotic songs have been proposed as the theme: "God Save the Queen" and "Rule, Britannia!". Troyte Griffiths asked Elgar if the former was the hidden theme, and Elgar replied, "Of course not!" Proponents of the latter as the theme have pointed out that the theme is similar to the "never, never, never" section of the song. This theory was accepted by the president of the Elgar Society, Yehudi Menuhin. Before conducting the Variations at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1984, Menuhin addressed the audience explaining that the solution to Elgar's enigma was "none other" than "Rule, Britannia". [n 2]
The pianist Joseph Cooper proposed the theory that the theme may be based on part of Mozart's "Prague" Symphony, which was on the programme at the premiere of the Variations in 1899. This solution was favoured by Sir Charles Mackerras, who conducted a concert entitled "Elgar – The Enigma Solved?" in February 1992. A different source is proposed by Dennis J. Whitten, who suggested "Pop Goes the Weasel" as the theme.
In 1953 the American magazine The Saturday Review organised a competition to find plausible candidates for the Enigma theme. Entries included "Una bella serenata" from Così fan tutte, the "Agnus Dei" from Bach's Mass in B minor, the slow movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Pathétique sonata, "When I am laid in earth" from Dido and Aeneas and "None shall part us" from Iolanthe. In 1985, Marshall Portnoy in the Musical Quarterly (Oxford) suggested that the answer to the Enigma was J S Bach's The Art of Fugue. The Art of Fugue contains the B-A-C-H motif (in English notation, B-flat A C B-natural) which appears in the 14th fugue, which, in Portnoy's view, also seems to have been hinted at in the Variations. A recent theory, proposed by Clive McClelland of the University of Leeds, suggests that the hidden theme is S. Baring-Gould's hymn tune "Now the day is over". Unlike most theories, this deals with all 24 notes of the main theme; the lyrics too, McClelland thinks, fit in with Elgar's "dark saying".
Another solution has been published in 2007 by the Dutch lexicographer Hans Westgeest. He found a connection between the Enigma and the Jaeger-Beethoven-story behind the Nimrod-variation which Elgar told Dora Penny later (see var. IX above). The real theme of the Variations which is present everywhere throughout the work in different shapes, is rather short: it consists of only nine notes. These notes are the same as the first nine notes of Nimrod, in 4/4 time (with a crotchet rest on the first beat of the bar). This short melody is based on the rhythm of Edward Elgar's own name ("short-short-long-long", the reverse of it, "long-long-short-short", and an endnote) and can be called the "Elgar-theme". Elgar composed this theme as a countermelody to the beginning of the mysterious "principal Theme" which, as Elgar himself disclosed, is present "through and over the whole set" without being actually played. This hidden melody turns out to be the theme of the second movement of the Pathétique Sonata of Beethoven. The "Elgar-theme" comprises the very notes of the Beethoven melody, in exactly the same order but, when one combines the two melodies, all of these notes sound a bit later in the "Elgar-theme" (so the G of Beethoven is followed by the G of Elgar, Beethoven's F is followed by Elgar's F etc.). As Westgeest states, the symbolism of this is evident: by composing the work Elgar follows the example of Beethoven, as Jaeger told him to do (see var. IX above). By doing so, the artist triumphs over depression and discouragement in the powerful, optimistic Finale, "E.D.U." So, like some works of Elgar's contemporaries Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, the Variations are about the artist himself. In this theory even Elgar's later remark to Dora Penny "I thought that you of all people would guess it" (see var. IX above) makes good sense.
In 2014 during a concert in Diveevo, the conductor Adina Spire performed with the Bezdin Ensemble a simple countermelody solution proposing as the hidden melody Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God": a church hymn that all know and contains the word "dark" in its lyric.[better source needed]
However, the possibility that a church hymn is the counterpoint is rather unlikely: Elgar didn't like hymn tunes and considered them being "ghastly inartistic".
Other possible themes
The musical scholar Sir Jack Westrup insisted that according to Elgar's words it was clear that the theme was a melody: "Everyone who knew Elgar at the time is quite emphatic that he meant a tune. Hence the suggestion that the larger theme is friendship – reinforced by a quotation from the Religio Medici which includes the word 'Enigmas' – can hardly have any foundation". Others have disagreed.
Professor Ian Parrott, former vice-president of the Elgar Society, in his book on Elgar (Master Musicians, 1971) wrote that the "dark saying", and possibly the whole of the Enigma, had a biblical source, 1 Corinthians 13:12, which reads according to the Authorised Version of the Bible: "For now we see through a glass, darkly (enigmate in the Latin of the Vulgate); but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." This verse is from St. Paul's essay on love. Elgar was a practising Roman Catholic and on 12 February 1899, eight days before the completion of the Variations, he attended Quinquagesima Mass at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Malvern. This particular verse was read. Another literary theme was suggested by Edmund M. Green in the Elgar Society Journal (November 2004, Vol.13, No. 6) in which he suggested that the "larger theme" is Shakespeare's sixty-sixth Sonnet and that the word Enigma stands for the real name of the Dark Lady of the Sonnets.
Another suggested solution to the Enigma is the mathematical constant pi, which is certainly "well known". The first four notes of the Variations are the scale degrees 3–1–4–2, which correspond to a decimal approximation of pi. The commonly used fractional approximation 22/7 is also observed in the two "drops of a seventh" that follow exactly after the first eleven notes– 11 x 2/7, or 22/7. In this proposal, the "dark saying" is a pun on the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, found in "Four and twenty blackbirds (dark) baked in a pie (pi)", used to refer to the first twenty-four black notes which are followed by an unusual use of a double bar, setting them apart. Elgar wrote his Variations in the year following the laughable Indiana Pi Bill of 1897, and noted in 1910 that the work was "commenced in a spirit of humour". Elgar gave three more sentences about the Variations in 1929. Each sentence has a clue towards fractional pi. The first sentence he refers to 2 crotchets and 2 quavers, a hint at "22". In the third sentence, he references something in bar 7, a hint at "/7". In the second sentence he directs attention to the drop of a seventh in the 3rd and 4th bar. Observing these 2/7 leads to finding 22/7, fractional pi. These 3 hints given after 30 years confirm that the decimal pi opening four notes was not a coincidence but the root of the Enigma. 
Elgar himself quoted many of his own works, including Nimrod (Variation IX), in his choral piece of 1912, The Music Makers. On 24 May 1912 Elgar conducted a performance of the Variations at a Memorial Concert in aid of the family survivors of musicians who had been lost in the Titanic disaster.
Frederick Ashton's ballet Enigma Variations (My Friends Pictured Within) is choreographed to Elgar's score with the exception of the finale, which uses Elgar's original shorter ending (see above), transcribed from the manuscript by John Lanchbery. The ballet, which depicts the friends and Elgar as he awaits Richter's decision about conducting the premiere, received its first performance on 25 October 1968 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
The acclaimed 1974 television play Penda's Fen includes a scene where the young protagonist has a vision of an aged Elgar who whispers to him the "solution" to the Enigma, occasioning astonishment on the face of the recipient.
Elgar suggested that in case the Variations were to be a ballet the Enigma would have to be represented by 'a veiled dancer'. Elgar's remark suggested that the Enigma in fact pictured 'a friend', just like the variations. His use of the word 'veiled' possibly indicates that it was a female character.
The Enigma Variations inspired a drama in the form of a dialogue – original title "Variations Énigmatiques" (1996) – by the French dramatist Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt.
There have been more than sixty recordings of the Variations since Elgar's first recording, made by the acoustic process in 1924. Elgar himself conducted the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra for its first electrical recording in 1926 on the HMV label. That recording has been remastered for compact disc; the EMI CD couples it with Elgar's Violin Concerto conducted by the composer with Yehudi Menuhin as the soloist. Sixty years later, Menuhin took the baton to conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Variations for Philips, as a coupling to the Cello Concerto with Julian Lloyd Webber. Other conductors who have recorded the work include Arturo Toscanini, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Georg Solti, Leonard Bernstein, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Pierre Monteux, William Steinberg and André Previn, as well as leading English conductors from Sir Henry Wood and Sir Adrian Boult to Sir Simon Rattle.The main theme (Enigma: Andante) can also be found in the Matrix movie soundtrack called Clubbed to Death.
Notes and references
- John Ebenezer West (1863–1929), F.R.A.M., F.R.C.O., organist and composer, was musical adviser to Novello's, the publishers of the Variations
- According to the "Rule, Britannia!" theory (presented by the Anglo-Dutch musicologist and writer Theodore van Houten, in Music Review, May 1976) this hidden character is "Britannia ruling the waves." Moreover, Van Houten suggested that Variation XI represents another symbol for England: John Bull, with bulldog and all. Van Houten's "Rule Britannia!" theory links the Enigma Variations with nationalism in European music around 1900. Elgar, then a solid conservative, wrote his patriotic cantata Caractacus (Op. 35) just before the Enigma Variations (Op. 36). The premiere concert was concluded by Alexander Mackenzie's Overture Britannia, based on "Rule, Britannia!".
- Also published as Variations for Orchestra, Variations on an Original Theme, etc.
- Elgar’s programme note for a performance of the ‘’Variations’’ in Turin, October 1911
- Moore pp. 247–52
- Moore, p. 252
- Moore, pp. 273 and 289
- Moore, p. 350
- Kennedy, p. 179
- McVeagh, p. 146
- For example see Powell p. 39.
- As she wrote later in her book; Mrs. R. Powell (1947), pp. 110–111.
- McGlaughlin, Bill. Edward Elgar: Part 2 of 5. Exploring Music. Originally aired 6 April 2004.
- Video on YouTube
- Quotation from the booklet by Elgar, My Friends Pictured Within by Novello and Company Limited, London(1946)
- Elgar’s original text names Lady Mary Lygon. She sailed for Australia after the completion of the Variations but before the work’s first performance.
- Kennedy p.96
- Moore, Jerrold Northrop (Nov 1999). "The Return of the Dove to the Ark – ‘Enigma’ Variations a Century on". Elgar Society Journal 11 (3).
- Burley, pp.125-127
- Atkins, pp.477-480
- Kennedy, pp.96-97, 330
- Blamires, Ernest (Jul 2005). "‘Loveliest, Brightest, Best’: a reappraisal of ‘Enigma’s’ Variation XIII (Part I)". Elgar Society Journal 14 (2).
- Blamires, Ernest (Nov 2005). "‘Loveliest, Brightest, Best’: a reappraisal of ‘Enigma’s’ Variation XIII (Part II)". Elgar Society Journal 14 (3).
- Elgar, My friends pictured within 1946, Var. XIV
- Young, Letters to Nimrod p. 54
- Turner, p.46
- Edwards, F.G. (1900). ‘Edward Elgar’: The Musical Times 41 (1900). Reprinted in: Redwood 1982, pp. 35–49.
- Buckley 1905, pp. 54–55
- Powell pp. 119,120
- Turner p. 50, Atkins p. 428
- Rushton, p.77
- Del Mar, Norman (1998). Conducting Elgar. Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-816557-9.
- Powell, Richard C., "Elgar's Enigma," Music and Letters, XV (July 1934), p. 203, quoted in Portnoy
- Fiske, Roger, "The Enigma: A Solution," The Musical Times, CX (November 1969), 1124 quoted in Portnoy
- Sams, Eric, "Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma)," The Musical Times, CXI (March 1970), quoted in Portnoy
- Westrup, J. A.,"Elgar's Enigma", Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 86th Sess. (1959–1960), pp. 79–97, Taylor & Francis, Ltd for the Royal Musical Association, accessed 2 December 2010 (subscription required)
- Houten, Theodore Van, "You of All People: Elgar's Enigma," Music Review, XXXVII (May 1976), p. 130
- Page Tim, "Music Notes; Is Bach The Clue To Elgar's Enigma?" The New York Times, 3 November 1985, Section 2, p. 23, accessed 3 December 2010
- Stevens, Denis, "Elgar's Enigma", The Musical Times, Vol. 133, No. 1788 (February 1992), p. 62, accessed 2 December 2010 (subscription required)
- The Observer, 9 February 1992, p. 58
- "Pop Goes the Enigma," letter in Music and Musicians, XXVI (1977), pp. 4–5
- Portnoy, Marshall A. "The Answer to Elgar's 'Enigma'", The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 71, No. 2 (1985), pp. 205–210, Oxford University Press, accessed 25 October 2010 (subscription required)
- McClelland (2007).
- See Westgeest 2007. The book has been reviewed in the Elgar Society Journal 15, nr. 5 (July 2008), p. 37-39 and nr. 6 (Nov. 2008), p. 64.
- "Hans Westgeest – Biografie". Hanswestgeest.nl. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- Letter to August Jaeger, 3 Jan. 1902, in: Jerrold Northrop Moore: Elgar and his Publishers. Letters from a Creative Life, Oxford 1987, p. 323
- Alice Elgar's diary, 12 February 1899: "E. to St. Joseph's"
- Santa, Charles Richard; Matthew Santa (Spring 2010). "Solving Elgar's Enigma". Current Musicology (89).
- Jerrold Northrop Moore Edward Elgar: A Creative Life p. 634
- Lanchbery J. Enigma Variations, in Royal Opera House programme, 1984.
- Clubbed to Death - Matrix soundtrack on YouTube
- Atkins, Wulstan (1984). The Elgar-Atkins Friendship. Newton Abbot: David & Charles.
- Adams, Byron. (2000). "The 'Dark Saying' of the Enigma: Homoeroticism and the Elgarian Paradox." in 19th-Century Music, vol. 23, no. 3 (Spring, 2000), pp. 218–235.
- Buckley, R. J. (1905). Sir Edward Elgar. London / New York.
- Edwards, F.G. (1900). ‘Edward Elgar’, in: The Musical Times 41 (1900). Reprinted in: Redwood 1982, pp. 35–49.
- Elgar, Edward. My friends pictured within. The subjects of the Enigma Variations as portrayed in contemporary photographs and Elgar's manuscript. London, .
- Kennedy, Michael (1987). Portrait of Elgar (Third ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-284017-7.
- McClelland, Clive (2007). "Shadows of the evening: new light on Elgar’s ‘dark saying’". In: Musical Times, Vol. 148, No 1901 (Winter), pp. 43–48.
- McVeagh, Diana (2007). Elgar the Music Maker. Oxford: Boydell Press.
- Moore, Jerrold Northrop (1984). Edward Elgar - A Creative Life. Oxford: OUP.
- Nice, David (1996). Edward Elgar: an essential guide to his life and works. London: Pavilion. ISBN 1-85793-977-8.
- Powell, Mrs. Richard (1947). Edward Elgar: Memories of a Variation. London. 2nd ed.
- Redwood, Chr. (ed.), An Elgar Companion. Ashbourne.
- Reed, W H: Elgar, London: J M Dent & Sons, 1939.
- Rushton, Julian (1999). Elgar: 'Enigma' Variations. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63637-7.
- Turner, Patrick (2007). Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations - a centenary celebration (Second ed.). London: Thames Publishing.
- Van Houten, Theodore (1976). " 'You of all people' – Elgar's Enigma". In: Music Review, xxxvii, May, pp. 131–142.
- Van Houten, Theodore (2008). " 'The Enigma I will not explain' ". In: Mens & Melodie, #4, pp. 14–17.
- Westgeest, Hans (2007). Elgar's Enigma Variations. The Solution. Leidschendam-Voorburg: Corbulo Press. ISBN 978-90-79291-01-4 (hardcover), ISBN 978-90-79291-03-8 (paperback).
- Young first=Percy M. (Ed.) (1965). Letters to Nimrod. London: Dobson Books Ltd.
- Enigma Variations CDs
- Piano adaptation of Enigma Variations in MIDI file (104KB) The theme and its 14 variations are located at ca. [00:00, 00:55, 02:05, 02:55, 04:20, 04:50, 06:25, 07:30, 08:28, 09:50, 12:22, 14:55, 15:53, 17:38, 19:13] in this 24-min track.
- Enigma Variations: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Julia Trevelyan Oman Archive University of Bristol Theatre Collection, University of Bristol
- John Pickard, "Variations on an Original Theme (‘Enigma’) (1898–9)" from BBC Radio 3
- Discovering Music Enigma Variations
- The Enigma I Will Not Explain on BBC Radio 4
- Leonard Slatkin introduced Elgar's Enigma Variations from BBC Proms 1995
- Complete variation performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle in 2012
- Complete variation performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim
- Complete variation performed by the Massed Bands of the Household Cavalry at the 2007 Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph
- Complate variation performed by the Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Santa in Rotterdam
- Complete variation performed by the LSO conducted by Sir Colin Davis in 2004
- Complete variation in a Philip Bloom's airshow movie
- Complete variation performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin in 1995 BBC Proms