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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 12:35 GMT


Elgar's variation on a nursery rhyme?

Enigma Variations were first performed 100 years ago

Elgar's Enigma theme may have its roots in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, according to a classical enthusiast.

Up until now Mozart was the most famous composer to have taken inspiration from the traditional tune.

Patrick Turner explains his theory
With the 100th anniversary of Elgar's Enigma Variations looming, author Patrick Turner says the notion of the two tunes being connected had been knocking around in his subconscious for some time.

The amateur Elgar devotee has now written a book to prove his theory.

He said: "I was doing nothing in particular one day and the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star quite simply kind of drifted into my subconscious at the same time as the Enigma theme.

"Having said that, it is something I have been thinking about a lot over 25 years - so the whole thing has been very active in my subconscious."

According to Mr Turner's theory, Elgar did not use the children's tune as a practical joke, rather as a deliberate device.

[ image: Could the theme be Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?]
Could the theme be Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?
The provenance of the Enigma theme has been the subject of debate since the work's first performance in London almost a century ago.

But composer Anthony Payne, who completed Elgar's unfinished Third Symphony last year, says the new theory does not work.

He said: "The Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star tune does not sit all that comfortably with the Enigma theme, you have to put it in the minor to make it work.

"It has to go with the harmony and the tune and that only really happens in the beginning."

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