Music is full of riddles, of unanswered questions, of enigmas.
Sometimes a whole work is a puzzle: why was it written? Cage’s 4’33 is an obvious example, that poses so many questions. We’ve been discussing Satie’s Vexations on another thread. What, if anything, is the significance of 840? What is the underlying message? Why would a work that seems like a meditation be titled Vexations? Is the purpose of these works (of all works of art?) to pose the questions?
Then there are intriguing hidden messages, the ciphers: Bach’s music is full of them, as is Schumann’s. (Not to mention the more obvious BACH and DSCH signatures).
And perhaps the most famous of the enigmas: who are the characters Elgar depicts in his Variations?
I love these questions. Do you? Which musical enigmas do you find most vexing (or satisfying)?
Just to add that Wikipedia’s entry on Vexations seems to be excellent:
Although it raises more questions than it answers 😉