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Published on Sep 10, 2008
Edgar William Elgar (1857 - 1934)
Movs. I & II from "Enigma Variations", Op. 36
Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra, Op. 36 ("Enigma"), commonly referred to as the "Enigma Variations", is a set of a theme and its fourteen variations written for orchestra by Edward Elgar in 1898--99. It is Elgar's best-known large-scale composition, for both the music itself and the enigmas 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.
Movement I: Theme (Andante) ---------------- The theme consists of two contrasting melodic fragments, with the first one being the main theme. The main theme is played by the first violins at the beginning. It is played for a second time, with a slightly different accompaniment, after the second melody has been introduced by the woodwinds. Both fragments are further developed in the following variations. The theme leads into Variation 1 without a pause.
Movement II: C.A.E (L'istesso tempo) ---------------- Caroline Alice Elgar, Edward's wife. The variation contains repetitions of a four-note melodic fragment which Elgar reportedly whistled whenever arriving home to his wife; with a little imagination, something like "Dar-ling, I'm home"...