TWENTIETH CENTURY VARIATIONS ON BORROWED THEMES
Ko, Kyung Nim
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Mergers and acquisitions are words that are usually associated with the modern business world. Such joint efforts toward improvement, however, existed long before our time, in the form of musical partnerships. It was not unusual for composers to share in each other's works, borrowing themes and recreating them to generate new meanings; in the process, new masterpieces were often created. My performance project, Twentieth Century Variations on Borrowed Themes, explores the fruits of such labor. The main objective of this project is to demonstrate how certain composers of the twentieth century have taken famous themes and used them to create variations, imbuing their own creative ideas, musical styles and pianistic challenges. This objective was accomplished by performing three recorded public recitals. These programs consisted of early to late twentieth century pieces that are based on borrowed themes, either in theme and variations form, fantasia form, paraphrase form, or transformal variation form. I have selected the pieces based on their artistic merits and technical challenges, thus allowing me to grow as a pianist and artist. In addition, I wanted to choose some pieces that are rarely performed, as I believe the public delights in hearing unfamiliar gems. The first recital consisted of the music of two legendary pianists: Variations on a Theme of Chopin by Rachmaninoff and Goldberg Variations by BachIBusoni. The second program featured Grand Fantasy on Gershwin's Porgy and Bess by Earl Wild, Sonatina No. 6 (Fantasy on Bizet 's "Carmen") by Busoni, and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, op.43 by Rachmaninoff. Some unusual and seldom-performed pieces, as well as a familiar favorite, were spotlighted in the third recital. The pieces performed on this program were John Rea's Twenty-one Transformal Variations on the "Kindersznen " by Robert Schumann (Las Meninas), Muczynski's Desperate Measures (Paganini Variations), Busoni's Elegie No. 3 (Turandot 's room), and Rhapsodie Espagnole by LisztIBuson. These composers artfully breathed new life into the material borrowed from others, and in the process, the "borrowed" themes became undoubtedly and uniquely their own music.