Loneliness, a sense of nothingness yet combined with great idealism and ambition – all that was true of Elgar. Since the ’Enigma’ Variations first appeared there has been endless speculation as to whether some musical riddle is contained in that ’Enigma’ theme: cryptogram perhaps, or a scrambled reference to the well-known tune ’Auld Lang Syne’ has been suggested. However ingenious or entertaining the results, surely this misses the point. The Variations may begin with ’nothing’, the lonely, melancholic, selfdoubting artist; but they progress to something very different: a depiction of the artist in triumph: in the Finale, ’EDU’ (’Edu’ was Alice’s nickname for Elgar), we see the man who has indeed made something of himself. And it is a musical journey through friendship – the 13 vivid musical portraits of his closest friends that build up to the Finale – which has enabled Elgar to reach that longed-for goal.