Theme and Variations Music Recordings and Sheet 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.

Title Composer Instrument Period Ratings
2 Airs variés, Op.5 Pierre Baillot Chamber group Classical
2 Thème Variées and 12 Menuets, Op.11 Fernando Sor Guitar Romantic
2 Tyrolian Themes with Variations, Op.4 Francesco Calegari Guitar Romantic
2 Varied Themes, Op.8 Jacques Bosch Guitar Romantic
3 Airs Russes Variés, Op.72 Ferdinand Ries Solo Instrument and Piano Romantic
3 Airs Variés Niccolò Paganini Solo Instrument and Piano Romantic
3 Exercises and 20 Variations Gino Tagliapietra Piano Early 20th Century
3 Favorite Airs, Set 2 Sophia Dussek Harp Romantic
3 Favorite Airs, Set 7 Sophia Dussek Harp Romantic
3 Favorite Airs with Variations for the Harp, Set 1 Sophia Dussek Harp Classical
3 Lays of the People, Op.10 Charles Wels Piano Romantic
3 Paraphrasen über 'Tristan und Isolde' Carl Tausig Piano Romantic
3 Swiss Airs with Variations, Op.44 Matteo Carcassi Guitar Classical
3 Thèmes favorits de l'opera 'Preciosa', Op.53 Friedrich Kuhlau Piano Romantic
3 Thêmes Variées, Op.146 Johann Heinrich Carl Bornhardt Chamber group Romantic
3 Themes variés, Op.34 Johann Nepomuk Hummel Piano Classical
3 Thèmes variés pour la Guitare, Op.12 Matteo Carcassi Guitar Classical
3 Themes with Variations for 2 Violins, Op.7 Bartolomeo Campagnoli Chamber group Classical
4 Airs Favoris Variés, WoO Matteo Carcassi Guitar Classical
4 Variations and Finale, Op.141 Mauro Giuliani Guitar Romantic
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Periods 20th Century · 21st Century · Baroque · Classical · Early 20th Century · Late 19th century · Renaissance · Romantic