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This section is not intended to be a review of existing CDs. Good critics have done this already, and are experts on the subject. I just wish to draw your attention to particular works and interpretations.
Title The “Diabelli Variations”, Opus 120.

Anton DIABELLI, Austrian composers (1781-1858), pianist and teacher, was also an editor of music.

In 1819, he asked many composers to write variations on a waltz of his composition. Beethoven found the theme lacked interest; nevertheless he set to, the irregular way to his work which was to be played in June 1823 at published the same year.

The variations are in C major, except for numbers 9, 29 and 32, which are in C minor.

The 33 variations on a waltz theme of Diabelli, opus 120:

  • Theme vivace: waltz theme of a mild character 0'53

  • Variation no. 1 alla marcia maestosa: the theme is transformed into a voluntary march 1'53

  • Variation no. 2 poco allegro: a type of subtle scherzo 0'54

  • Variation no. 3 l'istesso tempo: mysterious 1'33

  • Variation no. 4 un poco piu vivace: harmonic amplification of the variation 1'02

  • Variation no. 5 allegro vivace: very free variation 0'59

  • Variation no. 6 allegro ma non troppo e serioso: variation on 2 hands on the start of the theme 1'56

  • Variation no. 7 un poco piu allegro: elongation of the theme; voluntary 1'14

  • Variation no. 8 poco vivace: lyrical 1'30

  • Variation no. 9 allegro pesante e resoluto: short and leaping 1'48

  • Variation no. 10 presto: a type of scherzo 0'39

  • Variation no. 11 allegretto: poetic variation on the start of the theme 1'28

  • Variation no. 12 un poco piu mosso: based on the quaver figure heard in the bass 0'59

  • Variation no. 13 vivace: whimsical and full of surprises 1'05

  • Variation no. 14 grave e maestoso: mysterious, questioning (quite long) 6'20

  • Variation no. 15 presto scherzando: graceful 0'38

  • Variation no. 16 allegro: courageous variation 0'59

  • Variation no. 17 [allegro]: inversion, a quarter of the speed of the preceding variation 1'03

  • Variation no. 18 poco moderato: tranquil 2'18

  • Variation no. 19 presto: with contrapuntal development 1'02

  • Variation no. 20 andante: strange chords in organ play 2'56

  • Variation no. 21 allegro con brio: rhythmic, with trills, leaping intervals 1'35

  • Variation no. 22 molto allegro )notto e giorno faticar...): humorous quote of the start of Don Giovanni 0'52

  • Variation no. 23 allegro assai: wild 0'52

  • Variation no. 24 fughetta: andante: calm and serene interlude; four voice fugue (Bach) 3'45

  • Variation no. 25 allegro: dancing character (passepied) 0'48

  • Variation no. 26 piacevole (whimsical): alternating rhythm 1'06

  • Variation no. 27 vivace: in triplets 1'03

  • Variation no. 28 allegro: rough staccato 1'02

  • Variation no. 29 adagio ma non troppo: character of a prelude 1'18

  • Variation no. 30 andante sempre cantabile: a great calm 3'13

  • Variation no. 31 largo molto espressivo: a type of aria (or arietta), the longest of the variations 6'33

  • Variation no. 32 fuga (allegro): double fugue of 4 voices, peak of the work 3'43

  • Variation no. 33 tempo di menuetto, moderato: minuet full of grace. 3'52

Timings after the version performed by Piotr ANDERSZEWSKI

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Title Some performances of the “Diabelli Variations”

This work is readily available on CD. Here you can find some performances on the internet, new or second hand:

in the USA

in the UK

in France

in Germany

  • Piotr ANDERSZEWSKI Search Buy from - There is also a great but rare DVD version

  • Claudio ARRAU Search Buy from Dispo sur

  • Daniel BARENBOIM Search Buy from Dispo sur

  • Alfred BRENDEL Search Buy from

  • Rudolf BUCHBINDER Search Dispo sur

  • Stephen KOVACEVICH Search Dispo sur

  • Anton KUERTI Buy from Dispo sur

  • Michael LEVINAS Buy from Dispo sur

  • George PLUDERMACHER Search Dispo sur

  • Maurizio POLLINI Search Buy from

  • Sviatoslav RICHTER Buy from Dispo sur

  • Rudolf SERKIN Search Buy from

  • Artur SCHNABEL Search Buy from

  • Grigory SOKOLOV Search Dispo sur

  • Daniel VARSANO Search Buy from

  • Elisabeth WESTENHOLZ Search Buy from Dispo sur

  • and many more by many other pianists ... Available Available Available Available

Diabelli Variations - Beethoven

Diabelli Variations - Beethoven

Diabelli Variations - Beethoven

Diabelli Variations - Beethoven

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Title The Complete Diabelli Variations
Beethoven on cd
Piano: Rudolf Buchbinder

Beethoven's 33 variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli are known under the title 'Opus 120'.

Anton Diabelli, composer, professor of music and editor, produced a light, simple theme in 1819, for variation by all whom Vienna counted as composers.

Beethoven on cd
Ultima - Warner Music 2001
Same version as that of Teldec

Beethoven's 33 variations became the object of a special collection. It was only in 1824 that the variations of the 50 composers were edited.

Alongside Beethoven we can therefore hear Czerny, Hummel, Kreutzer, Liszt, Moscheles, Mozart (son), Schubert, Archduke Rodophe, and many more. It is easy to hear the differences between the different schools of music, the capabilities of some, the virtuosity of others, and their creativity. A must....
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Title The Diabelli Variations and Beethoven's sketches

Only by looking at the CD do we already know that it will be a very special CD. We have a first confirmation while reading the 173 pages of the ‘booklet’ (half in English, the other half in Portuguese). The second clue comes from the mention ‘played on a piano with historical tuning’.

And, last but not least, one can have the pleasure to listen to 17 sketches left by Beethoven. Marco Alcantara's interpretation shows the talent of a great artist.

The musical interpretation of the Diabelli Variations, the sketches, the extensive booklet and the historical tuning make of this CD into a very special gift

Beethoven CD
Sui Generis - 2006

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Title The Diabelli  Variations: interpretation and lecture

This wonderful double CD presents not only a great interpretation of the Diabelli Variations played by the pianist William Kinderman but also a lecture made by the Professor William Kinderman. Both CD are of great quality.

The pianist expresses the variations with an important variety of colors, and his touch is both strong and delicate.

The lecturer tells us about the creation of the variations, Beethoven’s work of composition and research, and illustrates his speech with musical examples. It is a great pleasure to listen to William Kinderman showing us the path to Beethoven’s music.

Alfred Brendel use to say about Kinderman: ‘A very rare bird’!

Two CD, one must!
Beethoven CD
Arietta - 2007
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Title The “Diabelli Variations” on the Conrad Graf of Beethoven

Paul Komen performs the 33 Variations of Diabelli and the Bagatelles opus 126 on the Conrad Graf of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn.

Paul Komen brings feeling and mystery to the work and exploits the pianoforte with clarity and finesse.

A recording to keep for amateurs of early pianos.


The WDR 3 - Ars Musici - 2004
Paul Komen

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Title The Diabelli Variations performed in Historical Tuning
Beethoven on cd

This recording is particularly special because the Diabelli Variations are performed on a piano which has been tuned in the same way that pianos were tuned in Beethoven's day.

Susan Halligan, with the help of Paul List, inteprets this work faithfully and with life. And the sound is not at all spoiled. There is a commentary, at the end of the cd which compares the period piano and the modern day version.

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Title Modern variations on the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven

Here are the 33 variations of Uri Caine on the 33 variations of Beethoven on a theme by Diabelli.

On listening attentively, one can discover that the arrangements and improvisations are sometimes symphonic, sometimes a bit jazzy, sometimes intimate.

Respectful of Beethoven's work, which certain variations recall to life, this curiosity has a place in your CD collection.

The CD is presented in a hard cover, which contains a presentation booklet… 33 architectural variations. Astonishing!

Cd Beethoven - Uri Caine

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Title Dialogue with 33 variations of Beethoven

In 1971, Michel Butor wrote the Dialogue with 33 variations of Ludwig van Beethoven on a waltz by Diabelli. Nine years later, Michel Butor met the pianist Jean-François Heisser. Together they present a lecture-concert.

In 1999, Jean-François Heisser recorded the Diabelli Variations. The disc inspired a new text by Michel Butor (in French): The deaf castle…

Actes Sud - 1 book and 1 cd - 220 pages - 2001 - ISBN: 2-7427-3491-0.

Cd Beethoven

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Many thanks to Melanie PIDDOCKE and Hannah SALTER
for their translations of this page from French into English
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