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John Rasmussen
03-25-2001, 03:21 AM
Originally posted by Peter:
Bach went one better and used his name as a fugue subject, I don't suppose it's possible with Beethoven!


J.S. Bach wasn't the only one. Dmitri Shostakovich also used his name, or at least his initials DSch, in several pieces including the Tenth Symphony, in which the notes D, E flat, C, and B pervade the last two movements and finally are pounded out on the kettledrums to close the symphony.

Also, Alban Berg used not only his own name but the names of his friends Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, as far as it was possible to realize them in German notation, at the beginning of his Chamber Concerto.

As for the similarity between Enigma and Pathetique, it's more melodic than harmonic and is hinted at even in the theme itself, now that I'm comparing the two in my mind. (I've played both, the Pathetique on piano and in the orchestra for Enigma.) It's more a family resemblance than a quote. For a closer resemblance check out the third movement of LvB's last string quartet (Opus 135) and the last movement of Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony, whose melodies are almost identical for the first few measures.

Michael
09-27-2002, 01:12 AM
On a recent radio broadcast, attention was drawn to a strong resemblance between the "Nimrod" section of Elgar's "Enigma Variations" and the second movement of Beethoven's Pathetique sonata. The two pieces were played one after the other, and the Elgar really did sound like a variation of Beethoven's melody. Maybe everybody else has noticed this before, but I confess I never did until now.
Bearing in mind that the tune Elgar used for his work is still an enigma, maybe Beethoven is the answer to the mystery?
However, I must listen again to the other Elgar variations and see how they compare. It's probably just a coincidence in the "Nimrod" case. Elgar did give some clues to the original tune but I can't remember what he actually said.

Michael

Peter
09-27-2002, 02:58 AM
There was a very interesting Ken Russell film on the South Bank show about Elgar the other night - a certain lady whose name escapes me claimed she was the theme!

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'Man know thyself'

Tom Kristof
09-27-2002, 11:49 AM
The connection with the Nimrod variation and the Pathetique sonata stems from Elgar's relationship with the subject of the variation, his publisher Jaeger (sp?). Elgar and Jaeger's relationship went above that of a normal composer - publisher relationship, they were great friends. Apparently they would often discuss Beethoven's music, especially his slow movements which Elgar revered. The opening bars of the Nimrod variation are similar, harmonically, to the opening bars to the slow movement to the Pathetique. The Enigma Variations are full of little quirks and stories of the 'variationees,' that are hidden in the music and I think that the similarity between Nimrod and the Pathetique was in memory of the discussions Elgar and Jaeger had on Beethoven's music.

As far as what exactly the enigma is, there is heavy evidence that suggest it could be one of three things. 1. Rule Britannia, 2. There are multiple enigmas, 3. Elgar himself is the enigma. Billy Reed was a close friend of Elgar for much of the composer's life and in his biography of Elgar he presents very persuasive evidence in support of the third option.

Rod
09-27-2002, 06:28 PM
Originally posted by Tom Kristof:

As far as what exactly the enigma is, there is heavy evidence that suggest it could be one of three things. 1. Rule Britannia, 2. There are multiple enigmas, 3. Elgar himself is the enigma. Billy Reed was a close friend of Elgar for much of the composer's life and in his biography of Elgar he presents very persuasive evidence in support of the third option.



If Reed is right, what an act of self indulgence!


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
09-28-2002, 12:51 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
If Reed is right, what an act of self indulgence!




Bach went one better and used his name as a fugue subject, I don't suppose it's possible with Beethoven!

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'Man know thyself'

Tom Kristof
09-28-2002, 08:06 AM
Originally posted by Rod:
If Reed is right, what an act of self indulgence!




I can't let this comment pass - the stories behind the Enigma variations, (ie. what is the enigma? who are the 'variationees'? etc.) were never meant to be revealed. Of course now we know that some of the information has been revealed while we may never know the answers to others.

As far as Elgar was concerned, he never wished for the public to know any of the stories behind the variations. For the public the Engima variations were supposed to be little more than a set of orchestral variations, for the 'variationees' and Elgar the Enigma variations were a personal thing between them.

I believe that the case Billy Reed was making for the third option was based on Elgar as being present in his representation of his relationship with his 'variationees.'

After all, Rod, how is one supposed to describe their friendship/relationship with someone else without refering to themselves as well as their friend? This is not self-indulgence, but a personal tribute to his friends that was supposed to remain personal.

Rod
09-28-2002, 06:47 PM
Originally posted by Tom Kristof:


After all, Rod, how is one supposed to describe their friendship/relationship with someone else without refering to themselves as well as their friend? This is not self-indulgence, but a personal tribute to his friends that was supposed to remain personal.

If the 'enigma' refered to is in fact all of the variations (ie their hidden identities) then this would not be an act of self indulgence.

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Chris
10-01-2002, 08:09 AM
Bump to account for time bug.

Tom Kristof
10-01-2002, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by John Rasmussen:
As for the similarity between Enigma and Pathetique, it's more melodic than harmonic and is hinted at even in the theme itself, now that I'm comparing the two in my mind. (I've played both, the Pathetique on piano and in the orchestra for Enigma.) It's more a family resemblance than a quote.

I have been thinking about the enigma a little more since I last posted. The slow movement of the Pathetique is quoted in the opening three chords of the Nimrod variation. They are the same chords (transposed, of course) from the opening of the second movement of the Pathetique. Elgar himself was forced to admit to this.

As for the melody from the Pathetique being present in the actual enigma theme, I don't believe there is actual reason behind it. And it is hardly present at all, it is only pure coincidence.

One more thing - Quite a few times during his life Elgar signed his name at the bottom of a letter with the first phrase of the enigma theme rather than his name. Also, the syllables of his name: Edward Elgar, fit the rhythm of this first phrase. I believe that this further supports the fact that Elgar is the enigma himself.

As for Shostakovich - His DSCH theme was certinally used in many of his works and I think particularly well in the 8th String Quartet. Quite a personal statement for a man who was supposed to be writing 'for the people.'