A Conversation for The Enigma in Elgar's Variations

Elgar Enigma solved: BACH is the answer

Post 1


There is no doubt at all that Elgar concealed the name of BACH in his variations. It fits perfectly. To see for yourself go to


That Elgar chose the only key in which the name BACH can be played, and that it "goes but is not played" is enough. Elgar was hugely in awe of Bach and it is not conceivable that he wrote this piece and accidentally managed to fit B-A-C-H into the texture. The proof is in movement XII (B.G.N.) Andante - when a solo cello poignantly states the "B-A-C-" but the "H" is swallowed up rather rudely by the clarinet starting the next movement. It is as if Elgar is saying "here it is" but he pulls it out of reach at the last minute.

As I say, there is absolutely no doubt.

Hugh Hunt
Trinity College

Elgar Enigma solved: BACH is the answer

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

... another larger theme goes but is not played...

But B-A-C-H is played in the first bar, so that can't be the solution.

The notes of BACH are not playable in _any_ key without accidentals. With accidentals they're playable in every key. I'd accept that Elgar put B-A-C-H into the cello line as a tribute to the great composer. So did many other composers. But it's not the solution to the Enigma.

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Elgar Enigma solved: BACH is the answer

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