Variations on a Theme of Schubert
Solo Piano, 17′
Solo Piano, Orchestra—2222—2100—timp, 1 perc—str. 17′. Full score
The theme is from Schubert’s song “An mein Klavier,” or “To my Piano.” Following the theme are seven variations, each exploiting significant intervals or rhythmic gestures of the song, and each making use of the tune in some way.
Variation 5 also quotes “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” a favorite hymn of Samuel Hsu’s, the dedicatee of the original version for solo piano. In this variation, the middle register sings the first few notes of that tune, while the left hand assays the Schubert tune in the extreme low register, extremely slowly.
Variation 6 leads into the final variation without a break, and the Schubert tune is treated as a three-part invention, leading into a chorale.
The piano part in the solo and orchestral versions is the same.
The solo version premiered in 1997 by Paul Jones to honor the 25th Anniversary of Samuel Hsu’s professorship. The work was revised, and Variation 4 was added, in 1998/99; the orchestration was completed in August 1999, and premiered by the Jupiter Symphony in New York City on September 20th and 21st, 1999, with pianist Makiko Hirata, Jens Nygaard conducting.