Recorded on 03/30/2011, uploaded on 10/03/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Beethoven composed his 7 Variations on Theme from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in 1801. The theme comes from the duet “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” (“In men who know the feeling of love”), and is sung by Pamina and Papageno as praise to the love between husband and wife. The choice of theme here possibly may have been significant for Beethoven. It is well-known the composer long desired to find a soul mate, and even late in life held to his enigmatic Immortal Beloved. Beethoven scored his variations for cello and piano, yet the piano takes a decidedly prominent role. The theme is announced first by the piano for four measures, mimicking the Pamino’s opening lyrics in the original duet, with a countermelody for the cello soloist; in the next four, the roles are reversed. The melody then returns to the piano, in a slightly embellished manner, for the remainder of its course. The variations that follow vary greatly in mood, from energetic and joyful to sorrowful, and even determined. All, however, hold to the theme’s fifteen-measure structure. Variation 4 turns to the tonic minor key, while Variation 6, in accordance with Classical tradition, is marked Adagio. Ending in a somewhat quicker tempo than the theme itself, the final variation is succeeded by a lengthy coda beginning resolutely in C minor. In keeping with the intricate variations that preceded it, the coda, free of the restrictions of melodic variation, approaches the sort of thematic development one would expect in the course of a sonata form. In the final measures, the head motif of the theme returns in a gentle decrescendo before the final fortissimo chords that close the piece. Joseph DuBose
Beethoven Seven Variations on “Bei Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen” from Die Zauberflote by Mozart
Mozart’s opera, Die Zauberflöte, was composed and premiered in 1791, the year of his death. The opera was one of Beethoven’s favorite works, and served as an inspiration for two of his sets of variations for cello and piano. This is the second of the two, composed in 1801. It is based on a love-duet sung by Pamina and Papageno (soprano and baritone) near the end of Act 1 of the opera. The piano presents Pamina’s initial declaration and the cello follows with Papageno’s response. Following the theme are seven short variations of contrasting character and mood. Richard Narroway
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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