Recent research has uncovered what is probably the "real" solution. What do you think?
The first four notes of the Enigma Variations are scale degree 3-1-4-2, a common decimal approximation of Pi. Pi was in the news during the year before Elgar wrote his famous enigma. The Indiana Pi Bill of 1897 attempted to legislate the value of Pi. This futile effort was widely ridiculed and Elgar was always amused by such "japes" as he called them. Elgar loved puzzles and he alone solved a famous riddle that was issued as an challenge to all of England by a master puzzler (who bragged that his riddle was impossible to solve.) Elgar's six page solution is on display at his birthplace museum. Elgar said that his work on the Enigma Variations was "begun in a spirit of humor." Pi fits all of the clues given by Elgar in his 1899 program notes. The dark saying could be "Four and twenty blackbirds (dark) baked in a pie (Pi)". Elgar was fond of puns. One of his earliest works was "Childhood Daze." Pi is the theme in the literary sense. It is the concept behind the work. The word "Enigma" was handwritten on the score, centered over the first four bars, where we can find both decimal Pi (3.142) and fractional Pi (22/7) cleverly hidden.
In 1929, when he wrote his pianola roll notes, Elgar was 72 years old, in ill health, and no one had solved his enigma for 30 years. Elgar was determined not to give up the solution but he probably wanted to leave unmistakable clues to verify the correct solution in case it were solved after his death. In the first sentence he refers to 2 quavers and 2 crotchets, a hint at 22 (of 22/7). In the second sentence he states that "the drop of the seventh should be observed in bars 3 and 4." These two sevenths follow exactly after the first eleven notes leaving us 2/7 x 11 = 22/7. In the third sentence Elgar further confirms his intentional Pi by refering to bar 7, a hint at /7 (of 22/7). At age 72, Elgar left us three sentences hinting at fractional Pi in music that begins with decimal Pi, scale degree 3-1-4-2. Elgar either planned his Enigma Variations around Pi or we have a series of phenomenal coincidences. What do you think?
C R Santa