clip_image001You may need an introduction before I tell you about one person’s solution to a musical cryptogram. I had never heard of such a thing. Here, Wikipedia, tells us:

Edward Elgar composed his Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra ("Enigma"), Op. 36, commonly referred to as the Enigma Variations, in 1898–99. It is a set of fourteen variations on a hidden "theme" that is, in Elgar’s words, "not played". It is Elgar’s best-known large-scale composition, for both the music itself and the enigma behind it.

Elgar dedicated the piece to "my friends pictured within", each variation being an affectionate portrayal of one of his circle of close acquaintances. See Musical cryptogram. The people portrayed in the variations include Elgar’s wife Alice, Augustus J. Jaeger and Elgar himself. The enigma is the hidden theme, which has been the subject of much speculation. Various musicians have proposed theories for what melody it could be, although Elgar did not say that that his "theme" was a melody. The enigma could be something else, such as a symbol or a literary theme. Elgar accepted none of the solutions proposed in his lifetime, and, pleased with his little joke, took the secret with him to the grave.

After its 1899 London premiere, the piece achieved popularity and was performed internationally. It has been recorded over 60 times.

imageAlong comes Mr. Padgett. According to his own blog, Elgar’s Enigma Theme Unmasked, we learn about Mr. Padgett:

Mr. Padgett studied violin with Michael Rosenker, and Rosenker’s pupil, Owen Dunsford. Mr. Padgett studied piano with Sally Magee (a student of Emanuel Bay), and Blanca Uribe, a student of Rosina Lhévinne. He attended the Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California, and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in psychology. At Vassar he studied music theory and composition with Richard Wilson. Mr. Padgett has performed for . . . .

Elgar’s Enigma Theme Unmasked seems to be a blog dedicated to just what its name says. Therein, I found this shroud ladened conclusion that Mr. Padgett posted just yesterday:

This brief review documents multiple coded references to the Turin Shroud in the Enigma Variations. The Hyphen Cipher in Variation II encodes the name of Secondo Pia, the first official photographer of the Turin Shroud. The timing of Pia’s famous photograph in May 1898 is credible because it predates the genesis of the Enigma Variations by five months. In Variation XIII the Romanza Cipher names the Turin Shroud as TURIN S, leaving the word shroud symbolically shrouded by its five missing letters. The importance of that sacred relic to Roman Catholics like Elgar is highlighted by the FACE Cipher, for Pia’s famous photographic negative of the Turin Shroud vividly revealed for the first time the face and crucified body of a man many believe to be Jesus. Elgar originally designated Variation XIII with a single capital letter L, and that is the only discernible English letter on the Turin Shroud formed by a distinctive "poker hole" pattern. Finally, the Tasso Cipher serves as a distinct literary reminder of Elgar’s interest in the Turin Shroud because Tasso was the guest of honor when it was delivered to the city of Turin in 1578. With so many ciphers pinpointing the same famous religious relic, there is no room for doubt. A major source of inspiration behind the Enigma Variations was the Turin Shroud. To learn more about the secrets of the Enigma Variations, read my eBook Elgar’s Enigmas Exposed.

imageIs this like Bible Codes?  Apparently not. This is something some composers do. For fun, maybe?

I’m reading all about this on an iPhone while sitting on a bench by a pond called a lagoon. For some reason, they call ponds lagoons in South Carolina. The sun has just come up. An alligator is swimming slowly by in what I call ‘up periscope’ mode; only their nostrils and eyes are visible. My dog, whom I’m supposed to be walking, is sitting beside me watching me. If he could talk he would say, “Walking me would be a better use of your time.”

He is right, the dog that is. Compare:

Elgar sonically portrays the sea in Variation XIII by means of fourMendelssohn fragments from the concert overture Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The word sea is the phonetic equivalent of the letter c, the first letter in the FACE Cipher. The remaining letters are provided by the Mendelssohn fragments which are in the keys of A-flat major, F minor and E-flat major. It is hardly a coincidence those key letters form the well known music cryptogram FAE, hinting at the fact they contain yet another music cryptogram. Adding the letter C to the letters FAE enables one to form the word FACE. Whose face inspired Variation XIII? The one miraculously revealed by Secondo Pia’s famous photographic negative of the Turin Shroud. This mysterious friend’s initials are encoded by the Roman numerals. X represents 10, and the tenth letter in the alphabet is J. III stands for 3, and the third letter is C. Together the Roman numerals openly conceal the initials JC.

or this:

imageElgar originally designated Variation XIII with a solitary capital L. Many scholars have debated the significance behind that letter. With the discovery of various coded references to the Turin Shroud, the meaning becomes clear. The Turin Shroud has distinctive “poker hole” burn patterns in the shape of a capital letter L. That feature is the only discernible letter on the Turin Shroud. When inverted, the capital letter L resembles the upper case of the Greek letter gamma.  During the Byzantine era thegamma was used to decorate alter clothes known as gammadia. The L-shaped poker holes on the Turin Shroud may have been deliberately put there to designate the cloth as sacred.