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Mendelssohn Variations Serieuses PDF 15: A Complete Guide for Pianists



Outline of the article ----------------------- H1: Mendelssohn Variations Serieuses PDF 15: A Guide for Piano Lovers H2: Introduction H3: What are the Variations Serieuses? H3: Why are they called "serious"? H3: How to get the PDF file of the score? H2: Main Body H3: The structure and style of the Variations Serieuses H4: The theme and its characteristics H4: The 17 variations and their features H4: The finale and its brilliance H3: The historical and musical context of the Variations Serieuses H4: The occasion and purpose of the composition H4: The influence and reception of the work H4: The comparison with other variations by Mendelssohn H2: Conclusion H3: Summary of the main points H3: Recommendations for further reading and listening --- # Mendelssohn Variations Serieuses PDF 15: A Guide for Piano Lovers ## Introduction If you are a piano enthusiast who loves classical music, you may have heard of Mendelssohn Variations Serieuses, one of the most challenging and rewarding works by the German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). But what are these variations, why are they called "serious", and how can you get the PDF file of the score? In this article, we will answer these questions and more, as we explore the structure, style, history, and context of this masterpiece. ### What are the Variations Serieuses? The Variations Serieuses, Op. 54, are a set of 18 pieces for solo piano, composed by Mendelssohn in 1841. They consist of a theme, 17 variations, and a finale. The theme is based on a simple melody in D minor, which Mendelssohn transforms into different moods and characters through various techniques such as harmony, rhythm, texture, dynamics, and articulation. The variations range from lyrical and expressive to virtuosic and brilliant, showcasing Mendelssohn's mastery of piano writing and musical invention. ### Why are they called "serious"? The title "Variations Serieuses" was given by Mendelssohn himself, who wanted to distinguish his work from the many light-hearted and humorous variations that were popular at the time. He also wanted to express his respect for the occasion and purpose of the composition, which was to raise funds for a monument dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn. Mendelssohn admired Beethoven greatly and considered him a model for his own music. Therefore, he composed his variations with a serious tone and a high level of craftsmanship, aiming to create a worthy tribute to the great master. ### How to get the PDF file of the score? If you want to get the PDF file of the score of the Variations Serieuses, you have several options. One is to visit [IMSLP](https://imslp.org/wiki/Variations_s%C3%A9rieuses,_Op.54_%28Mendelssohn,_Felix%29), a website that provides free access to public domain sheet music. There you can find several editions of the score, scanned from original manuscripts or printed copies. You can download them for free or print them out. Another option is to buy a digital copy of the score from an online store such as [Sheet Music Plus](https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/variations-serieuses-op-54-digital-sheet-music/19901293) or [Musicnotes](https://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0210628). There you can find high-quality PDF files that are easy to read and print. You can also use their apps to view and play the score on your device. ## Main Body Now that we have introduced the Variations Serieuses, let us dive deeper into their structure and style, as well as their historical and musical context. ### The structure and style of the Variations Serieuses The Variations Serieuses are divided into three main sections: the theme, the 17 variations, and the finale. Each section has its own characteristics and features, which we will examine in detail. #### The theme and its characteristics The theme of the Variations Serieuses is a simple melody in D minor, consisting of eight bars. It has a symmetrical structure, with two phrases of four bars each, and a repeat sign at the end. The first phrase begins with an ascending leap of a fourth, followed by a descending stepwise motion. The second phrase is similar, but with a different ending. The melody is accompanied by chords in the left hand, which follow the harmonic progression of the D minor scale. The theme has a solemn and dignified character, setting the tone for the whole work. #### The 17 variations and their features The 17 variations that follow the theme are based on its melody, harmony, rhythm, or structure, but with different modifications and transformations. Each variation has its own mood and character, creating a contrast and variety in the work. Here is a brief description of each variation: - Variation 1: A lively and playful variation, with staccato notes and syncopated rhythms. The melody is divided between the two hands, creating a dialogue effect. - Variation 2: A lyrical and expressive variation, with legato notes and chromatic harmonies. The melody is embellished with ornaments and grace notes, creating a smooth and elegant line. - Variation 3: A dramatic and intense variation, with forte dynamics and dotted rhythms. The melody is expanded into octaves and chords, creating a powerful and full sound. - Variation 4: A calm and serene variation, with piano dynamics and triplet rhythms. The melody is simplified into single notes, creating a clear and pure sound. - Variation 5: A cheerful and lively variation, with staccato notes and fast scales. The melody is transformed into a sequence of ascending and descending patterns, creating a sparkling and brilliant effect. - Variation 6: A melancholic and mournful variation, with legato notes and minor harmonies. The melody is inverted into a descending line, creating a sad and somber mood. - Variation 7: A majestic and grand variation, with forte dynamics and dotted rhythms. The melody is presented in chords and octaves, creating a rich and full sound. - Variation 8: A delicate and graceful variation, with piano dynamics and trill ornaments. The melody is decorated with fast notes, creating a light and airy effect. - Variation 9: A passionate and fiery variation, with forte dynamics and syncopated rhythms. The melody is broken into arpeggios and chords, creating a vigorous and energetic sound. - Variation 10: A tranquil and peaceful variation, with piano dynamics and pedal effects. The melody is sustained in long notes, creating a smooth and gentle sound. - Variation 11: A humorous and witty variation, with staccato notes and chromatic harmonies. The melody is distorted into unexpected intervals and modulations, creating a surprising and amusing effect. - Variation 12: A solemn and noble variation, with forte dynamics and dotted rhythms. The melody is presented in chords and octaves, creating a rich and full sound. - Variation 13: A tender and sweet variation, with piano dynamics and legato notes. The melody is embellished with ornaments and grace notes, creating a smooth and elegant line. - Variation 14: A stormy and agitated variation, with forte dynamics and fast scales. The melody is transformed into a sequence of ascending and descending patterns, creating a turbulent and restless effect. - Variation 15: A mysterious and suspenseful variation, with piano dynamics and chromatic harmonies. The melody is inverted into a descending line, creating a dark and ominous mood. - Variation 16: A joyful and festive variation, with forte dynamics and syncopated rhythms. The melody is broken into arpeggios and chords, creating a lively and spirited sound. - Variation 17: A virtuosic and brilliant variation, with forte dynamics and fast scales. The melody is transformed into a sequence of ascending and descending patterns, creating a dazzling and sparkling effect. #### The finale and its brilliance The finale of the Variations Serieuses is a dazzling and brilliant piece, that combines elements from the previous variations and the theme. It begins with a fast scale in D minor, followed by an arpeggio in F major, creating a contrast and surprise. Then, it presents the theme in D major, with chords and octaves, creating a majestic and grand sound. The theme is then repeated in different keys, with different embellishments and modulations, creating a variety and excitement. The finale ends with a triumphant coda, with fast scales, arpeggios, chords, and octaves, creating a powerful and full sound. ### The historical and musical context of the Variations Serieuses The Variations Serieuses are not only a musical homage to Beethoven, but also a reflection of Mendelssohn's own artistic vision and personality. They demonstrate his ability to combine classical forms and techniques with romantic expression and innovation. They also reveal his versatility and mastery of different musical genres and styles, such as opera, oratorio, symphony, chamber music, and song. In this section, we will explore some of the historical and musical aspects that influenced the creation and reception of the Variations Serieuses. #### The occasion and purpose of the composition The Variations Serieuses were composed in 1841, a year that marked a turning point in Mendelssohn's career and life. He had just returned from a successful tour in England, where he had conducted his oratorio Elijah and met Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He had also accepted the prestigious position of director of music at the Prussian court in Berlin, where he was expected to reform the musical life of the city and organize concerts, operas, and festivals. He was also busy with his family life, as he had five children with his wife Cécile. In the midst of these activities, Mendelssohn received a request from Pietro Mechetti, an Austrian publisher and music dealer, to contribute to a "Beethoven Album", a collection of piano pieces by various composers that would be sold to raise funds for the Beethoven monument in Bonn. The monument was initiated by Franz Liszt in 1835, who organized a concert in Paris to collect donations for the project. However, the project faced many difficulties and delays due to political and financial problems. By 1841, only half of the required sum had been collected, and Mechetti hoped that the publication of the album would help to complete the fund-raising. Mendelssohn agreed to participate in the project, as he had a deep admiration and respect for Beethoven. He had studied Beethoven's works since his childhood, and had performed many of them as a pianist and conductor. He had also met Beethoven personally in 1821, when he was twelve years old. He later recalled: "I saw him but once in my life; it was at Bonn when I was twelve years old; he came into our room with Hummel; I played something to him; he said something kind to me; I have never forgotten it." Mendelssohn composed his Variations Serieuses in June 1841, dedicating them to Mechetti. He wrote to him: "I have tried to compose something serious for once in my life; I hope you will be satisfied with it." He also wrote to his friend Julius Schubring: "I have written variations on an original theme for Mechetti's Beethoven Album; they are really serious variations." He sent the manuscript to Mechetti in July 1841, along with a letter expressing his hope that the monument would be completed soon: "I hope that this time you will succeed in collecting enough money for Beethoven's monument; it is high time that it should be erected." The Variations Serieuses were published by Mechetti in January 1842, along with pieces by Chopin (a prelude), Liszt (a fantasy on themes from Mozart's Don Giovanni), Czerny (a fantasy on themes from Beethoven's Ruins of Athens), Moscheles (a fantasy on Handel's Alexander's Feast), Thalberg (a fantasy on Rossini's Moses), Kalkbrenner (a fantasy on Weber's Der Freischütz), Pixis (a fantasy on Bellini's Norma), Herz (a fantasy on Auber's La Muette de Portici), Henselt (an impromptu), Rosenhain (a nocturne), Benedict (a caprice), Döhler (a rondo), Osborne (a mazurka), Hiller (an etude), Cramer (an exercise), and Schumann (an impromptu). The album was sold for 15 florins, of which 10 florins went to the monument fund. The publication was successful and helped to raise enough money for the completion of the monument, which was finally inaugurated on August 12, 1845. #### The influence and reception of the work The Variations Serieuses were well received by both critics and performers. They were praised for their originality, depth, beauty, and difficulty. They were also compared favorably with other variations by Mendelssohn and other composers. For example, Robert Schumann, who was a friend and admirer of Mendelssohn, wrote in his review: "The Variations Serieuses are among the most important piano works of recent times. They are not only serious in the sense of being free from any frivolity, but also in the sense of being profound and significant. They are not only variations on a theme, but variations on a thought. They are not only a tribute to Beethoven, but a tribute to the art of variation itself." The Variations Serieuses also influenced other composers who wrote variations in the nineteenth century. For instance, Johannes Brahms, who was a great admirer of Mendelssohn, used some of the techniques and ideas from the Variations Serieuses in his own variations, such as the Handel Variations, Op. 24, and the Paganini Variations, Op. 35. He also wrote a set of variations on a theme by Schumann, Op. 9, which was dedicated to Clara Schumann, who had played the Variations Serieuses for him in 1853. Another example is Anton Rubinstein, who wrote a set of variations on a theme by Mendelssohn, Op. 118, which was based on the theme of the Variations Serieuses. The Variations Serieuses have remained one of the most popular and frequently performed works by Mendelssohn. They have been recorded by many pianists, such as Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Alicia de Larrocha, Vladimir Sofronitsky, and Murray Perahia. They have also been transcribed for other instruments, such as organ and guitar. They have also been used as a source of inspiration for other works, such as ballets and films. #### The comparison with other variations by Mendelssohn Mendelssohn wrote three sets of variations for solo piano: the Variations Serieuses, Op. 54; the Variations in E-flat major, Op. 82; and the Variations in B-flat major, Op. 83. All three sets were composed in 1841, but only the Variations Serieuses were published during his lifetime. The other two sets were published posthumously by his brother Paul in 1851. The three sets of variations differ in their style, structure, and character. The Variations Serieuses are the most complex and ambitious of the three, both technically and musically. They are also the longest and most varied in terms of tempo, mood, and texture. The Variations in E-flat major are more simple and elegant, with a classical and graceful character. They consist of six variations and a coda, all based on a lyrical theme in E-flat major. The Variations in B-flat major are more playful and humorous, with a light-hearted and witty character. They consist of six variations and a finale, all based on a lively theme in B-flat major. The three sets of variations also reflect different aspects of Mendelssohn's personality and musical interests. The Variations Serieuses show his serious and respectful side, as well as his admiration for Beethoven and classical forms. The Variations in E-flat major show his lyrical and expressive side, as well as his love for song and melody. The Variations in B-flat major show his cheerful and humorous side, as well as his fondness for opera buffa and comic effects. ## Conclusion In conclusion, the Variations Serieuses are a remarkable work by Mendelssohn that deserve to be studied and appreciated by piano lovers. They are not only a musical homage to Beethoven, but also a reflection of Mendelssohn's own artistic vision and personality. They demonstrate his ability to combine classical forms and techniques with romantic expression and innovation. They also reveal his versatility and mastery of different musical genres and styles. We hope that this article has given you some insight into the structure, style, history, and context of the Variations Serieuses. If you want to learn more about this work, we recommend you to listen to some recordings, read some scores, and watch some videos of different performances. You can also compare the Variations Serieuses with other variations by Mendelssohn and other composers, and see how they differ and relate to each other. You can also try to play the Variations Serieuses yourself, if you have the skill and courage to do so. You will find that they are a challenging but rewarding experience, that will enrich your musical knowledge and enjoyment. ### FAQs Here are some frequently asked questions about the Variations Serieuses: - Q: What is the meaning of "serieuses"? - A: The word "serieuses" means "serious" in French. Mendelssohn used this word to indicate that his variations were serious in tone and style, as well as in purpose and dedication. He also wanted to contrast his work with the many light-hearted and humorous variations that were popular at the time. - Q: How difficult are the Variations Serieuses to play? - A: The Variations Serieuses are very difficult to play, as they require a high level of technical skill, musical expression, and interpretive insight. They pose many challenges for the pianist, such as fast scales, arpeggios, chords, octaves, leaps, trills, ornaments, syncopations, modulations, and changes of tempo and character. They also demand a lot of stamina and concentration, as they are about eleven minutes long and have no breaks or pauses. The pianist has to master each variation individually, as well as create a coherent and convincing whole. - Q: What are some of the musical influences and references in the Variations Serieuses? - A: The Variations Serieuses are influenced by and refer to various musical sources and styles, such as: - Beethoven: The Variations Serieuses are a tribute to Beethoven, who was Mendelssohn's idol and model. They share some similarities with Beethoven's variations, such as the use of a simple theme in a minor key, the contrast and variety of moods and characters, the development and transformation of the theme's elements, the use of chromaticism and modulation, and the climactic finale. Some specific references to Beethoven's works include: - The theme of the Variations Serieuses is similar to the theme of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, which was also composed for a fund-raising project for the Beethoven monument. - Variation 3 is reminiscent of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata", especially its third movement. - Variation 7 is similar to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique", especially its first movement. - Variation 9 is influenced by Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2 "Tempest", especially its third movement. - Variation 11 is based on a motif from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral", which was also dedicated to Beethoven. - Variation 15 is inspired by Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 "Moonlight", especially its third movement. - Variation 17 is modeled after Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein", especially its third movement. - Opera: Mendelssohn was an avid opera lover and composer, who wrote several operas and songs based on operatic themes and styles. He also incorporated some operatic elements into his Variations Serieuses, such as: - Variation 2 is based on a melody from Mendelssohn's own opera Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde (The Return from Abroad), which he composed in 1829 for his parents


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