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Enigma Variations

Enigma Variations (Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma)). Elgar's Op.36 for full orch., comp. 1898–9. F.p. London, 19 June 1899; finale rev. for 3rd perf. Sept. 1899. The ‘Enigma’ is the theme itself, probably representing Elgar, but he said ‘through and over the whole set another and larger theme “goes”, but is not played’. Identity of this 2nd theme, if it exists, has never been established despite many ingenious guesses. The work is ded. ‘to my friends pictured within’, each variation being a mus. sketch. Initials or pseudonyms disguise the individuals but their identities are: 1. CAE ( Lady Elgar); 2. HDS-P ( Hew Steuart-Powell); 3. RBT ( R. B. Townshend); 4. WMB ( W. Meath Baker); 5. RPA ( Richard P. Arnold); 6. Ysobel ( Isabel Fitton); 7. Troyte ( A. Troyte Griffith); 8. WN ( Winifred Norbury); 9. Nimrod ( A. J. Jaeger); 10. Dorabella ( Dora Penny); 11. GRS ( G. R. Sinclair, but more accurately his bulldog Dan); 12. BGN ( Basil G. Nevinson); 13. ***( Lady Mary Lygon); 14. EDU ( Elgar). Also 1-act ballet by Ashton, f.p. CG 1968 (uses orig. ending to finale). Arr. for brass band by Eric Ball, 1984.

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