Friday, March 16, 2007

The excruciating boredom of pure fact


Sir Edward Elgar would have been wryly amused by the current fuss over the removal of his image from the £20 note in his anniversary year. The original letter above is from my personal collection. It is from Mrs Richard Powell, friend of Elgar and Variation No X, "Dorabella" in the composer's Enigma Variations. It was written to the composer and writer Harold Rutland in 1950 about the mystery of the dedication in Spanish on the Violin Concerto - “Aquí está encerrada el alma de . . . . .” (Here is enshrined the soul of . . . . .) The middle paragraph reads:

What a curious fact it is that people seem to prefer a mystery to a fact. Having kept my promise to Lady Elgar for 40 years not to reveal the 'Secret of the 5 dots,' I find that no one cares to know the truth, and I have even heard something about 'pricked bubbles'. A writer to The Times once alluded to "the excruciating boredom of pure fact"!

Now read Elgar versus Adams in BBC anniversary lottery
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4 comments:

Jessica said...

'Excruciating boredom' isn't likely to set in until we know the answer, though. Can you enlighten us, or will the mystery continue?

Pliable said...

Hi Jessica, thanks for dropping by.

The letter was found in a copy of the autobiography of Mrs Richard Powell, 'Edward Elgar - Memories of a Variation' published by Methuen. I bought the book second hand some years ago.

Stuck into the book were hand written letters and postcards sent to the original owner, Harold Rutland, by Mrs Powell who was then living in East Grinstead.

The letter seems to be a reference to the paragraph in the book (P.86) which was apparently added in 1946 (the first edition was published in 1937) where Mrs Powell reveals that Lady Elgar told her that the five dots referred to an American friend of the Elgars, Mrs Julia H. Worthington; contradicting the now commonly accepted interpretation that the enigmatic dedicatee of the Concerto is Mrs Alice Stuart-Wortley.

I can see no reason to disbelieve Mrs Powell, and if Lady Elgar's explanation is taken at face value there is no 'enigma' to the dedication - the dedicatee is Mrs Julia H. Worthington. But of course the mystery remains unsolved, as we will never know whether Lady Elgar's explanation was fact; or whether it was simply Edwardian expediency created by herself, or by her husband.

Hope this helps,

Regards,

Pliable

David Paley said...

I was unaware of this quotation until now. But a brief trawl through Google reveals that the quotation is spanish meaning:
"Herein is enclosed the soul of ....." presumably "Julia". It is apparently a quotation from Gil Blas; but there is an intense speculation still centering upon Windflower.

Goatlips said...

Encerrada is usually translated as Enshrined.
The VC is his best work. Perhaps the most brilliant piece of music ever written - albeit very, very morbid. -_-