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November 3, 2022, Ann Arbor, MI (1 min. read) — A hidden theme? A mysterious allusion? A baffling ruse? Elgar took the topic matter of his Enigma Variations to the grave, and the famous “unheard theme” has preoccupied musicologists and historians ever since. Despite a series of hints provided by the composer during his lifetime, the exact solution to the puzzle remains unknown.

Puzzles and conjecture aside, the work continues to exist as one of the greatest examples of English music composed to date. The main theme emerges with hesitation, brimming with promise yet imbued with a haunting, subdued quality. Over the next fourteen variations, the theme is transformed, impishly characterizing some of Elgar’s closest confidants, “my friends pictured within” to whom he dedicated the work. In total, the Enigma Variations represents two sides of the creative artist: the charismatic, confident, and self-made genius on one side of the coin; the absorbed, melancholy, and eternally restless outsider on the other.

We’re thrilled to be bringing this moving work to Hill Auditorium on November 11, joined by John Adams’ diabolical Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? and Grammy® and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte.

Click below to access our digital program notes and explore the upcoming concert lineup and info on our guest soloist!

Enigma Variations digital program notes

Interested in tickets? Visit a2so.com/enigma-variations