What are your top 5 Theme and Variation works? And obscure favourites

Post your top 5 works in this form…they can include things like Godowsky’s Passacaglia or Grieg’s Ballade.

Also post lesser known obscure favourite works in this form that you think are worth promoting!


  1. Goldbachs
  2. Rzewski will nevah be united
  3. Diabrothas
  4. Kanfestzop
  5. Schoe Symphets

da BEZT:

  1. Rzewski will nevah be defeated
  2. Totentanz
  3. Shoe Symph Et
  4. Kanfeztsop
  5. Brahms/Paganini

da NEGLECTED (loads… some ->):

  1. Kanfeztsop
  2. Rzewski will nevah be people
  3. Hexameron
  4. Czerny Rode
  5. Herz Rossini

In the latter category there’s a ton really. Even excellent works by Beethoven and Mozart are rarely heard, and there’s lots of really inventive and fun things by the early and transition romantics. Several good virtuoso works too, especially if you include the less strict forms à la Volodos etc. My friend Lund there is a genius at them, and has written some of the best modern ones.

Kan feztin!!


fuuuuccckkkkkk :scream:

Mended :sunglasses:

Hahah FUCK what did you remove? :sunglasses:

Rach/Pag :sunglasses:

And Gelinek :sunglasses:

More than 5 I’m afraid. In no particular order, the Schubert B flat Imp, Bach Goldbergs, Haydn Variations in F, Brahms Handel, Brahms Paganini, Schumann Abegg & Symph. Etudes, Beethoven Diabelli, Franck S. Vs, Rach Chopin Vars + Corelli Vars., Mendelssohn Variations Sérieuses, Beethoven C minor variations + part 2 Op. 111, Rzewski The People United.

Neglected works: Fauré Vs in C# minor, Mompou Chopin Vs, Liszt Weinen Klagen, Copeland Piano Vs, Brahms op. 21/1, Schubert D813, Glazunov Opus 72, Dukas Variations, Interlude and Finale on a theme by Rameau



Top 5?

Mendy varz
Brahms Pag
Godo Passazheeyat
Brotha 111

Neglected (slight cheat as it’s not strictly a composition in its own right, but part of one which works on its own):

Also Liszt and others - Hexameron. Probably neglected because it’s so bloody difficult.

In general variation is not my favourite form. Another which I haven’t seen mentioned is Rameau’s gavotte et 6 doubles from the A minor suite.

Variation is however the form that I think has greatest potential for genuine classical crossover without diluting what classical music is about.

When a newcomer recognizes and enjoys a theme - that’s what popular music can do - and then they hear the different variations and begin to realize what classical music can give that popular music can’t.

We always access music first through a tune we like, where popular music and classical music diverge is that one is basically just the tune, and the other merely uses the tune as a starting point and platform for development.

You’re not wrong, however I find thematic variation kinda boring. I prefer Chaconnes or passacaglias (never quite worked out what the difference between these two is).

Depends how well it’s done and how wonderful the theme is.

And yes the Bach-Busoni Chaconne would could as one.

In the last few days I’ve been listening to the Enigma variations a lot, I find those more interesting than most. For some reason, I can’t stand long sets of variations (apart from the Goldbergs), for example I’ve never been able to get into either the People United or Diabelli variations.

Writing good variations is an art in itself that imo requires good dramatic sense. There’s a risk that the listener gets bored as the same thing is essentially repeated in a very formulaic manner, with the obligatory slow minor key variant. I forget what it is, but there’s a Beethoven variations which is essentially a precursor of operatic fantasy type stuff and frankly I find it deadly dull and uninspired.

Edit: it’s the Nel cor piu variations on Paisiello.

da diablo and tha momp chop

Of the ones that I’ve heard:

  1. Paganini-Brahms
  2. Paganini-Lutoslawski (for 88 & orch)
  3. Goldberg
  4. Handel- Brahms
  5. Diabrotha
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