Composed by Edward Elgar between 1898 and '99, Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra ("Engima"), Op. 36, has long been my favorite piece of classical music. In addition to being beautiful music there is enough mystery packed into the Variations to keep every conspiracy theorist in the house busy for years.
The work is comprised of a theme and 14 variations. Each variation is dedicated to a friend but the enigma remains hidden. What is the common theme? Is it played or is it conceptual? Some insist it must be music, some it must be a feeling. Blogger Robert Padgett offers theories, identifies hidden puzzles, strongly offers solutions and proof on his blog Elgar's Enigma Theme Unmasked
A comprehensive analysis of the Enigma Variations conducted over five years revealed the existence of at least nineteen different ciphers. While seemingly extraordinary, such a high number is entirely consistent with a reigning feature of Elgar’s psychological profile – an intense fascination for ciphers. More importantly, their decryptions are significant because they provide the answers to key questions concerning the Variations. What is the secret melody on which the Enigma Theme is a counterpoint?