Brian R. Denu '13, Gettysburg College
Date of Creation
Conservatory of Music
This piece for solo piano demonstrates a wide range of techniques utilized in twentieth century composition. The theme is taken from the Finale of Igor Stravinsky's ballet "The Firebird", which itself is based on a Russian folk song. Each subsequent variation focuses on one or more compositional technique.
II. March (chords by thirds, extended triads)
III. Molto grave e expressivo (chromaticism)
IV. L'istesso tempo (ten-tone row)
V. Fast and light (twelve-tone row, secundal harmony)
VI. Much less (minimalism, extended techniques)
VII. Hazy (quartal harmony, modal melody)
VIII. Finale (spectralism)
The order of the variations partly reflects a chronological motion of harmony through the twentieth century, but also demonstrates a building of large-scale tension, releasing that tension, then focusing on the aftermath of that release. The final variation creates a symmetry within the form of the piece, with chords rising into the uppermost register of the piano, just as the piece began.
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Denu, Brian R., "Variations on a Russian Folk Song" (2012). Student Publications. 18.