New theory for solving the mystery of Elgar's 'Enigma Variations'
If you still can't get the marvelous sounds of Elgar's Enigma Variations out of your head after the brilliant performance conducted by Peter Oundjian with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra last week, you'll want to check out the latest theory on solving the enigma itself.
You recall that Elgar said there was an unheard theme lying behind the theme that launches the work, but he never revealed it. Many a novel theory has been advanced over the past century. Oundjian and others look to the ancient Dies Irae chant as the solution to the mystery. Robert Wayne Padgett, a California-based violin teacher, has been busy studying this puzzle. Just last month, he was sure -- twice -- that he had solved it.
Early in February he offered the hymn tune "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Then, a little more than a week ago, he announced on his blog that the Wedding March from Mendelssohn's incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream is the definitive answer. His site includes some intriguing material backing up that theory. My guess is more theories will continue to emerge in the years ahead (maybe even more from Padgett himself), but it's fun considering this latest answer to Elgar's mischievous scheme.