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Prom 31: It’s probably quite important I post this

August 5, 2007

During this evening’s LIVE Prom concert from the Royal Albert Hall *, the gorgeously fluffy and terribly well-informed and sickening-good-at-presenting Suzie Klein invited members of the TV audience to submit their comments on tonight’s performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations and suggest what Elgar’s “Enigma” might have meant.

Self-indulgent, hippocritical and fundamentally naiive as I am, I did submit to her invitation with relatively little resistance.

The email is sent. The variations are barely over. So, just for the sake of honesty I figure it might be fun to include what I sent here .. .and then see whether the comment gets read out.

In the unlikely event that it actually get’s read out I will, of course, report back later.

Sent to: proms@bbc.co.uk

There’s no doubt that Elgar was a businessman and this is illustrated in no small part by the title assigned to the set of variations which Elgar is immediately associated with.

The title of “Enigma Variations” are just that. The idea of a man who must surely have had a good eye for marketing. What better way to keep this nostalgic and stereotypical portrait of the English countryside than by keeping people guessing about what each of its’ consituent parts really means.

To sum up all of the work in a nifty, difficult-to-forget title and then associate it with what is instantly recognisable English music is an illustration of someone who could well have wanted to secure his place in history. If there’s a sliver of a possibility that this is what Elgar intended then well done him.

Well done too to the members of the RPO who, under the direction of a conductor brought in at the last minute, pulled off a deeply impressive performance of what is the trickiest variation of all, the one we all recognise instantly and pay the closest attention to.

* Oh yes, it’s live. The brochure says a 7.30 start and the TV schedules say the BBC Four relay starts at 7.30pm too. This is terribly exciting.

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