Ludwig van Beethoven ( 1770-1827)
33 Variatons on a Waltz by A. Diabelli Op. 120:
I. Tema. Vivace
II. Alla marcia, maestoso
III. Poco allegro
IV. L’istesso tempo
V. Un poco piu vivace
VI. Allegro vivace
VII. Allegro ma non troppo e serioso
VIII. Un poco piu allegro
IX. Poco vivace
X. Allegro pesante e risoluto
XIII. Un poco piu moto
XV. Grave e maestoso
XVI. Presto scherzando
XVIII. L’istesso tempo
XIX. Poco moderato
XXII. Allegro con brio-Meno allegro
XXIII. Allegro molto alla “Notte e giorno faticar”
XXIV. Allegro assai
XXV. Fughetta. Andante
XXX. Adagio ma non troppo
XXXI. Andante sempre cantabile
XXXII. Largo, molto espressivo
XXXIII. Fuga. Allegro
XXXIV. Tempo di Minuetto moderato
Complete score: http://javanese.imslp.info/files/imgl…
The 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120, commonly known as the Diabelli Variations, is a set of variations for the piano written between 1819 and 1823 by Ludwig van Beethoven on a waltz composed by Anton Diabelli. One of the supreme compositions for the piano, it often shares the highest honours with J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
The music writer Donald Tovey called it “the greatest set of variations ever written”. The pianist Alfred Brendel has described it as “the greatest of all piano works”. It also comprises, in the words of Hans von Bülow, “a microcosm of Beethoven’s art”. In Beethoven: The Last Decade 1817 — 1827, Martin Cooper writes, “The variety of treatment is almost without parallel, so that the work represents a book of advanced studies in Beethoven’s manner of expression and his use of the keyboard, as well as a monumental work in its own right”. In his Structural Functions of Harmony, Arnold Schoenberg writes that the Diabelli Variations “in respect of its harmony, deserves to be called the most adventurous work by Beethoven”.
Beethoven’s approach to the theme is to take some of its smallest elements — the opening turn, the descending fourth and fifth, the repeated notes — and build upon them pieces of great imagination, power and subtlety. Alfred Brendel wrote, “The theme has ceased to reign over its unruly offspring. Rather, the variations decide what the theme may have to offer them. Instead of being confirmed, adorned and glorified, it is improved, parodied, ridiculed, disclaimed, transfigured, mourned, stamped out and finally uplifted”.
Beethoven does not seek variety by using key-changes, staying with Diabelli’s C-major for most of the set: among the first twenty-eight variations, he uses the tonic minor only once. Then, nearing the conclusion, Beethoven uses the tonic minor for Variations 29–31 and for Variation 32, a triple fugue, he switches to E-flat major. Coming at this late point, after such a long period in C-major, the key-change has an increased dramatic effect. At the end of the fugue, a culminating flourish consisting of a diminished seventh arpeggio is followed by a series of quiet chords punctuated by silences. These chords lead back to Diabelli’s C-major for Variation 33, a closing minuet.
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