Sunday, November 13, 2011

These variations are a real enigma.

Continuing on the theme and variations form of this weekend, I must play maybe the most recognized piece in this repertoire, Sir Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations."  This has an original theme for orchestra with 14 variations. England's Elgar made this enigma a fun joke of the piece.  Elgar hints that there is a a hidden theme that is, in Elgar's words, "not played". This hidden theme has been the subject of much speculation, and various musicians have proposed theories for what melody it could be, although Elgar did not say that it was a melody. The enigma could be something else, such as a symbol or a literary theme. Elgar accepted none of the solutions that were put forward in his lifetime, and, pleased with his little joke, took the secret with him to the grave.

The one thing that is not an enigma is the beauty of this piece. The original theme has a slow, haunting melody. Once heard, you can not get it out of your mind.

I did an earlier post on this piece called It's an Enigma in which I featured the 9th movement called the Nimrod variation.  The Nimrod variation is one of the most beautiful movements ever composed.  While I have the entire variations in this post, if you click on the link, you can play whenever you like the most beautiful [in my opinion] movement by itself of not just this piece but of any piece of music.
The Nimrod variation kicks in on this video at the 12:06 mark through the 16:03 mark.

Sir Edward Elgar: Variations on an original theme, "The Enigma Variations":

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