Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Leeson, Daniel N. "The Enigma Enigma." International Journal of Musicology 7 (1998): 241-57.

Many attempts have been made to identify the origin of Elgar's "Enigma" theme. However, such study of melodic affinity is futile. Melodic similarities can be found among many different pieces, most of which bear no relationship with each other. To prove this point, a computer was utilized to identify the relationship of material between compositions. The first study was that of Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, K. 626, to determine the amount of melodic affinity between the movements by Mozart and those by Süssmayr. This method was then employed for the purposes of identifying similarities with the "Enigma" theme. The compositions employed in this study were Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra, Enigma, his overture Alassio (In the South), and the slow movement from Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504 (Prague). As expected, many affinities were discovered between the three works. Thus, the study of melodic affinity is not conclusive, or even probable, when it cannot be coupled with documentary evidence.

Works: Elgar: Variations on an Original Theme for Orchestra, Enigma (241-44, 251-57).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Christopher Holmes

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