Classical piano music: theme and variations based on popular tune
January 12, 2012 7:28 PM   Subscribe

[Classical piano filter] What are some other pieces like Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star?

That's not the actual title, but are there other classical piano pieces that are variations based on a popular, well-known tune? I'm aware of the variations on Yankee Doodle for violin, but I'm looking for piano music that I can play (unless there's a piano transcription of the Yankee Doodle variations?!). I'm not looking for composers who did variations on a theme by another classical composer, which is fairly common. Nor am I looking for music that was composed originally as a theme and variations (e.g. Goldberg variations).
posted by foxjacket to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Paganini's Caprice no. 24 was originally written for violin. It has seen a vast number of variations and adaptations written by a swarm of other composers (ranging from Rachmaninoff to Benny Gooodman), many of which are performed on piano.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:40 PM on January 12, 2012

Perhaps not as famous a tune, but Beethoven wrote 7 variations on 'God Save the King'. (And they're free! :D)
posted by non-kneebiter at 8:21 PM on January 12, 2012

Here's Six Variations on Land of the Silver Birch.

The music is by Pierre Gallant. I found it in the RCM Grade 10 repertoire book.
posted by costanza at 10:02 PM on January 12, 2012

Mahler's First Symphony, third movement, is themed around "Frere Jacques". Apparently there's a piano arrangement (starts about 30 seconds in: YT link) but I don't know where you'd get it....
posted by Omission at 12:41 AM on January 13, 2012

Perhaps Franz Waxman’s Auld Lang Syne Variations might qualify as it has a piano part, although it calls for strings too. There’s a version of it on this CD, which also includes a (strings-only, alas) Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich.
posted by misteraitch at 2:23 AM on January 13, 2012

Louis Moreau Gottschalk "The Union", if you dare.

Beethoven also wrote variations of "Rule Britannia".

In fact, both Mozart and the young Beethoven (like almost every composer at that time) wrote lots of variations of tunes from operas, songs, etc. that were very popular and well-known in their day. "Popular": it's just where do you draw the line, seen from today.

The young Chopin then wrote his bunch of variations of popular tunes from his time, among others one from Mozart (the theme doesn't come before 3:35!)...
posted by Namlit at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2012

« Older How well will anti-depressants work with moderate...   |   seeking small trackball device that mounts to side... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.