Theme and Variations music

The word 'variation' in music refers to the process of repeating musical material in an altered form. The alteration can involve either melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, or timbric aspects. In a broader sense, the use of variations as a way of generating musical discourse has resulted in a number of forms or genres. The passacaglia and chaconne, for example, are variation forms. The most popular variation form is, however, the 'theme and variations'. A fundamental musical idea is stated (with or without an introduction) and then recurs a number of times, altered in its melodic shape, instrumentation, meter, rhythm, accompaniment, or some other aspect. Usually the variations will have the same structure and length as the original theme (which may be considered a legacy from the application of the variation technique to court dances). The first theme/variations works emerged in the 16th century, under the form of divisions (in which a melody was stated in long notes, and then subsequently divided in a progressive fashion, thus demanding some level of dexterity of the player). The basic idea of stating the variations in a progressive fashion has been a constant through the history of the Variation forms, arguably because it creates a sense of form and musical direction.
TitleComposerInstrumentPeriodRatings
Goldberg Variations, BWV. 988 Johann Sebastian Bach Piano Baroque
12 Variations on a French Nursery Theme K 265/300e Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Classical
Aria variata in A minor, BWV 989 Johann Sebastian Bach Piano Baroque
10 Variations on 'La stessa, la stessissima' by Salieri, WoO 73 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Classical
Sanaga River Dance Archippe Yepmou Piano 21st Century
Goldberg Variations, BWV. 988 Johann Sebastian Bach Piano Baroque
'Nimrod', no. 9 from 'Enigma' variations, Op. 36 Edward Elgar Orchestra Late 19th century
Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9 Fernando Sor Guitar Classical
Variations for the Healing of Arinushka Arvo Pärt Piano 20th Century
Enigma variations, Op. 36 Edward Elgar Orchestra Late 19th century
Variations sérieuses, Op. 54 Felix Mendelssohn Piano Romantic
Il carnevale di Venezia, Op. 10 Niccolò Paganini Solo Instrument(s) and Orchestra Romantic
Andante with variations in Fm, Hob. XVII:6 Franz Joseph Haydn Piano Classical
6 Variations in F major, Op.34 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Romantic
Variations on 'Nel cor piu non mi sento', WoO 70 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Classical
Variations on a theme from The Magic Flute, Op. 66 Ludwig van Beethoven Solo Instrument and Piano Classical
7 Variations on 'Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen', WoO 46 Ludwig van Beethoven Cello Classical
Variations on 'I Palpiti', Op. 13 Niccolò Paganini Solo Instrument(s) and Orchestra Romantic
Variations on an American Hymn Tune Gordon Young Organ 20th Century
Diabelli Variations, op. 120 Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Romantic
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