W.A.Mozart :: Variations G-major, KV 455
on "Unser dummer Pöbel meint" by C.W.Gluck
It sounds obvious, but Mozart's genial talent as a composer of variations is too often forgotten. His keyboard variations on ah! vous-dirai-je maman are well known, his other works much less. Which is a pity, since all of them are of astonishing high quality.
Full title of this work:
Zehn Variationen in G, über die Ariette "Unser dummer Pöbel meint", aus dem singspiel "Die Pilgrime von mekka" (C.W.Gluck), KV 455
Often, composers took a theme from a very well known work of a colleague, thereby as well using a theme that already knows a kind of popularity, as honouring the work of the colleague. No question of copyright at those days!
The theme of these variations comes from Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera 'Die Pilgrime von mekka', a work dating from 1764 and performed again around 1780 in Vienna.
As he writes in his letter of 23 08.1783, Mozart would have first took this theme during a concert where he improvised on it. Only one year later, he composed this work on paper.
It is one of the most brilliant set of variations, with unexpected turns, as for instance the 7th variations in e-minor, sounding as a string quartet with polyphonic imitations!
Mozarts displays the state-of-the-art technique of those days, and truly he must have been one of the greatest players of his time.
Here you find the score of this work:
The original work of Gluck: