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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn - Brahms


Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn

Johannes Brahms
(1833-97)



The theme of Haydn's which Brahms selected for these variations is the "Chorale Sancti Antoni" (the "Chorale of St. Anthony"). The variations are eight in number and close with a finale of great power. The theme itself is given out in the wind instruments, the double bassoon, cellos and double basses carrying the bass. It is hardly necessary to describe the construction of each variation by itself. It is almost entirely contrapuntal work and sometimes independent of the theme, so that the connection is at times difficult to trace. Like some of the older composer, Brahms evidently selected the theme because it lends itself well to this form of treatment and for a display of contrapuntal skill. The result is that after the impressive statement of the theme itself, its working up is of more interest to the trained musician than to the average concertgoer.





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