Beyond Rococo: Variation Form in Fifteen Works for Cello

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This dissertation examines the formal structures, technical demands, and historical significance of 15 works for cello that take the form of theme and variations. The works featured are variations by Ludwig van Beethoven (Variations WoO 45, Variations Op. 66, and Variations WoO 46,) Felix Mendelssohn (Variations Concertantes), Jean Sibelius (Theme and Variations), Gioachino Rossini (Une Larme), Ferruccio Busoni (Kultaselle), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Variations), Donald Tovey (Elegiac Variations), Paul Hindemith (A frog he went a-courting), Bohuslav Martinů (Variations on a Slovakian Theme), Imogen Holst (Fall of the Leaf), Edison Denisov (Variations on a Theme of Schubert), Elena Ruehr (Prelude Variations), and Adolphus Hailstork (Theme and Variations on “Draw the Sacred Circle Closer”). These pieces are divided into two categories: works with existing themes and works with original themes. The discussion of each piece includes the historical context of the work, relevant biographical information on the composer, and description of the role of the theme and the use of specific compositional techniques to alter that theme. Through the examination of these pieces, this paper accomplishes three objectives: tracing the history of cello playing through the expansion of technical demands as observed in these works; following the evolution of variation form in this selection of music; and encouraging the increased inclusion of these compositions in cello recitals. The recitals were performed at the University of Maryland School of Music’s Gildenhorn Recital Hall and Tawes Recital Hall. Recordings can be found in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).



NOTICE: Recordings accompanying this record are available only to University of Maryland College Park faculty, staff, and students and cannot be reproduced, copied, distributed or performed publicly by any means without prior permission of the copyright holder.