The faces behind the Enigma...

Elgar's Enigma Variations are well known for being dedicated to, as he put it, "my friends pictured within".  Each characterful variation is packed full of personality, and whilst the music can give a vivid portrayal of a person's nature, I've often found myself wondering what Elgar's friends actually looked like.  Well, wonder no more!  Thanks to our wonderful friends at The Elgar Birthplace Museum, we now know have pictures of each of them, in all their Victorian glory.
Variation I (L'istesso tempo) C.A.E.
C. Alice Elgar - Elgar's wife.

C. Alice Elgar.
Variation II (Allegro) H.D.S-P.
Hew David Steuart-Powell - a well-known amateur pianist and a great player of chamber music.

Hew David Steuart-Powell
Variation III (Allegretto) R.B.T.
Richard Baxter Townshend, Oxford don and author of the "Tenderfoot" series of books.

Richard Baxter Townshend
Variation IV (Allegro di molto) W.M.B.
William Meath Baker, squire of Hasfield, Gloucestershire.

William Meath Baker
Variation V (Moderato) R.P.A.
Richard Penrose Arnold, the son of the poet Matthew Arnold, and himself an amateur pianist.

Richard Penrose Arnold
Variation VI (Andantino) Ysobel
Isabel Fitton, a viola pupil of Elgar's.

Isabel FittonVariation VII (Presto) Troyte
Arthur Troyte Griffith, an architect and an "incompetent pianist"! Variation VIII (Allegretto) W.N.
Winifred Norbury, a easy-going friend Elgar's.Variation IX (Adagio) Nimrod
Augustus J. Jaeger - Elgar's close friend and music editor for his publisher, Novello & Co.Variation X (Intermezzo: Allegretto) Dorabella
Dora Penny, a friend whose stutter is depicted by the woodwinds.Variation XI (Allegro di molto) G.R.S.
George Robertson Sinclair, the energetic organist of Hereford Cathedral, with his bulldog, Dan (a well-known character) whose falling down a riverbank inspired this variation.Variation XII (Andante) B.G.N.
Basil G. Nevinson, a well known cellist. In later years, Nevinson would become the inspiration for Elgar's Cello Concerto.Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato)  * * * 
Lady Mary Lygon, eldest daughter of the late 6th Earl Beauchamp, a personal friend of Alice and Edward Elgar's. She also promoted the Madresfield Music Festivals and was a keen supporter of Elgar's music.Variation XIV (Finale: Allegro Presto) E.D.U.
Edward Elgar!So there we have it, a face to put to the name... or should that be a face to put to the variation!  I know I'll certainly enjoy thinking of these pictures at our Elgar's Enigma concerts this weekend. You can hear the RSNO perform Elgar's Enigma Variations, conducted by Rory Macdonald, on Friday 7 November in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh and on Saturday 8 November at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Both concerts start at 7.30pm.Some tickets are still available should you not have yours yet - just click here to book!Until the next time...CatAll images courtesy of The Elgar Birthplace Museum in Lower Broadheath, Worcester.

Arthur Troyte Griffith

Winifred Norbury

Augustus J. Jaeger

Dora Penny

George Robertson Sinclair and Dan the bulldog

Basil G. Nevinson

Lady Mary Lygon

Edward Elgar