Monday, February 21, 2011

2/21 "65 Variations on a Theme by Beethoven"

Back in November I posted a video and breakdown of Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor on an Original Theme WoO.80 (performed by Ivan Moravec).  In fact I posted versions by Glenn Gould and Rachmaninoff as well, so I was hesitant to do yet another...but after I found out about Stephen Heller's additional 33 variations for the same theme - well I couldn't resist the resulting blog title above...

Heller was born 7 years after Beethoven's set of 32 variations was first composed and published in 1806.  He finished his set of 33 variations in 1871, 65 years later.  Naturally his set is not regarded nearly as highly as Beethoven's, but it's a fascinating juxtaposition to compare the two sets, one from the end of the "Classical" period and the other well into the "Late Romantic " period.
(Was there another set composed in 1936?  2001?  Going on the "to-do" list..)

Firstly, Beethoven's 32 variations, this time by Radu Lupu, with score:

 Beethoven 32 Variations - Radu Lupu

...and secondly Stephen Heller's additional 33 variations performed by Petronel Malan:

Stephen Heller 33 variations on a theme by Beethoven op 130

Heller was so inspired by his set of variations that he did another set of 21 based on the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Appassionata Sonata (among others)...which you can find near the bottom of this playlist.

Since we're on the subject of variations, apparently there's a play called "33 Variations" based on the Diabelli Variations and starring Jane Fonda and Tom Hanks' son.  I can't really comment since I haven't seen it, but here's an interesting article and video...

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