Thème et variations ( Theme and Variations ) is a 1932 composition by Olivier Messiaen for violin and piano. It is considered as equally characteristic and immediately accessible as his Quatuor pour la fin du temps. The work was originally written as a wedding present for the composer's first wife, the violinist Claire Delbos, whom he married on 22 June 1932. The young couple gave the first performance on 22 November the same year.
In music, variation is a formal technique where material is repeated in an altered form. The changes may involve melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint, timbre, orchestration or any combination of these.
Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen was a French composer, organist, and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex; harmonically and melodically he employs a system he called modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from the systems of material generated by his early compositions and improvisations. He wrote music for chamber ensembles and orchestra, vocal music, as well as for solo organ and piano, and also experimented with the use of novel electronic instruments developed in Europe during his lifetime.
The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.
The work is divided into six brief sections:
A typical performance lasts around ten minutes.
The Turangalîla-Symphonie is a large-scale piece of orchestral music by Olivier Messiaen (1908–92). It was written from 1946 to 1948 on a commission by Serge Koussevitzky for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The premiere was in Boston on 2 December 1949, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. The commission did not specify the duration, orchestral requirements or style of the piece, leaving the decisions to the composer. Koussevitzky was billed to conduct the premiere, but fell ill, and the task fell to the young Bernstein. Bernstein has been described as "the ideal conductor for it, and it made Messiaen's name more widely known". Yvonne Loriod, who later became Messiaen's second wife, was the piano soloist, and Ginette Martenot played the ondes Martenot for the first and several subsequent performances. From 1953, Yvonne's sister Jeanne Loriod was the ondes Martenot player in many performances and recordings.
Saint François d'Assise is an opera in three acts and eight scenes by French composer and librettist Olivier Messiaen, written from 1975 to 1983. It concerns Saint Francis of Assisi, the title character, and displays the composer's devout Catholicism. The world première was given by the Paris Opera at the Palais Garnier on 28 November 1983.
Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus is a suite of 20 pieces for solo piano by the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992). The work is a meditation on the infancy of Jesus. It was composed in 1944 for Yvonne Loriod. A typical performance lasts about two hours.
Sonatine is a piano work written by Maurice Ravel. Although Ravel wrote in his autobiography that he wrote the sonatina after his piano suite Miroirs, it seems to have been written between 1903 and 1905. He most likely referred to the dates he finished both of the works.
Claire Delbos was a French violinist and composer, and first wife of the composer Olivier Messiaen.
La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ is a work written between 1965 and 1969 by Olivier Messiaen. It is based on the account found in the synoptic gospels of Jesus' transfiguration. The writing is on a very large scale; the work requires around 200 performers. The forces required include a mixed choir, seven instrumental soloists and a large orchestra.
Messe de la Pentecôte is an organ mass composed by Olivier Messiaen in 1949–50. According to the composer, it is based on twenty years of improvising at Église de la Sainte-Trinité, where Messiaen was organist since 1931.
The Variations, Interlude and Finale on a Theme by Rameau were composed by Paul Dukas between 1899 and 1902. The work was first performed in Paris in 1903.
Antonín Dvořák's Symphonic Variations on the Theme “I am a fiddler” for orchestra, Op. 78, B. 70, were written in 1877. They are played fairly commonly, much like Johannes Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. They are often recorded in conjunction with his nine symphonies.
Quatre Études de rythme is a set of four piano compositions by Olivier Messiaen, written in 1949 and 1950. A performance of them lasts between 15 and 20 minutes.
Fête des belles eaux is a 1937 composition by French composer Olivier Messiaen. The work is scored for six ondes Martenots and was commissioned for the 1937 Paris Exhibition. The work was written to accompany the movement of the fountains at the Exhibition.
Suite provençale, Op. 152, is a symphonic work written by Darius Milhaud in 1936. A version for orchestra alone, Op. 152c, was premiered by Milhaud himself in Venice on 12 September 1937; the ballet version, Op. 152d, premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 1 February 1938 under the direction of Roger Désormière.
Danses concertantes is a work for chamber orchestra by Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1942. A performance lasts about twenty minutes. Although written as an abstract ballet for concert performance, it has been choreographed numerous times.
Visions de l'Amen is a suite of seven pieces for two pianos by the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992), commissioned for the Concerts de la Pléiade that were held during the German occupation of Paris. It was composed in 1943 for the composer and Yvonne Loriod, and its performance requires about 40–45 minutes.
Préludes pour piano is an early work for piano by the French composer Olivier Messiaen composed in 1928–1929, when the composer was 20 years old. Messiaen considered it to be his first work of any value. The composition is based on Messiaen's modes of limited transposition, and betrays an influence of Debussy's preludes.
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