ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
In 1819, a composer and publisher named Diabelli embarked on a rather unusual project : to illustrate the musical trends of his day, he submitted a waltz of his own device to the most famous living virtuosos and composers, asking each of them to compose a variation, so that he could then publish this collective work. Among those solicited, Beethoven was intrigued by the challenge, taking what he called a Schusterfleck ( the work of a shoemaker ! ) and composing 33 variations on this bland theme, each a critical commentary, a mockery and demonstration of the power of his own genius. The formal and harmonic banality of the theme itself becomes the playing field : removing the waltz tempo, Beethoven diffracts Diabelli’s few measures into 33 radically distinct worlds, unique unto themselves and yet miraculously united, thus giving birth to one of his most fascinating and unusual works.
PIANOFORTE* Andreas Staier
* Pianoforte de Christoph Kern, 2019, d’après Conrad Graf, Vienne, 1825
BEETHOVEN Variations Diabelli op. 120