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Diabelli - Variation 9


Variations 9 – 11: “Turning” the ridiculous into the sublime, part one.

Up until this point, Beethoven has already had some fun at Diabelli’s expense. From the very beginning he seems almost to mock the whole enterprise by trading in the “waltz” for a march. He consistently (and insistently) draws attention to […]

Diabelli - Variation 10


Whirling Dervish

Kinderman writes that this has “traditionally been regarded as the end of the first section of the Diabelli Variations”. This is understandable as it certainly represents an emotional pinnacle in the set. But at the same time it acts as a sort of palette cleanser between the ridiculous […]

Diabelli - Variation 11

From the ridiculous to the sublime, part 3

This is another variation built entirely upon the turn at the very beginning of Diabelli’s waltz, but instead of parodying it with mock seriousness as in variation 9 it is now harmonized delicately in 4 parts and follows the descending 4ths and 5ths […]

Diabelli - Variation 12

A canonic perpetuum mobile with double 4ths in the right hand, the motivic material derived from the inverted turn and the three note rising rosalia sequence. The first half is not repeated, with the second half being written out. The repeating turn figure that occurs in the bass during second half’s the rosalia […]

Diabelli - Variation 13

More fun at Diabelli’s expense (Kinderman calls it “comic buffoonery”). The repeated chords are replaced with…nothing!

Diabelli - Variation 14

This stately processional march with double-dotted rhythms could hardly be more different in emotional content than the preceding variation. In Beethoven’s original plan it would have represented the halfway point of the set. The first slow variation so far, it evokes a sense of spacious restfulness, but also of pregnant with expectations for […]

Diabelli - Variation 15

Composed later and inserted into the set between the processional and the two marches that follow, this scherzo-like fast march is the shortest variation in the entire set. The “melody” follows the theme very closely.

Diabelli - Variations 16 and 17

These are the only two variations played together without pause. Like the past 3 variations, they continue in the manner of a march (even though variation #13 is in ¾ time, its vivace tempo and emphasis on every other measure give it a strong feeling of 2). Both feature unexpected modulations to distant […]

Diabelli Variation 18

This was the first variation of the set that I learned, years before any of the others. I’ve always found it to be rather coy and enigmatic. The imitative question and answer structure in the opening phrase of each half is based upon the opening turn from the theme, starting on E instead […]

Diabelli - Variation 19

Like a cat chasing its tail, this canon in octaves has the left hand chasing the right down the keyboard, and then the right hand chases the left back up. It is pure good humor, and follows the original harmonic structure of the theme. It has an interesting parallel in the seventh […]