A look at the Theme and Variations, Op. 13 of Franz Strauss


Back in 2003 I released an album I titled Les Adieux, which included all the works of Franz Strauss for horn and piano that were published during his lifetime. As we produced the album we opted to split the theme and variation works up into tracks so that students could find each variation easily.

Subsequently, these works — including the Theme and Variations Op. 13 featured in this article — were made available as a downloads and unfortunately you had to buy five tracks to get the complete work! And then it was put on YouTube as five separate videos….

I am not wild about the audio quality, but that it is on YouTube in this way does however make a focused look at this work possible. It was published before 1879 (a PDF timeline of the published works of Franz Strauss may be found here) and it is in print today, being fairly easy to track down in a published version and also the sheet music is available on IMSLP.

The work opens with a dramatic introduction.

Following that we have the theme. Note the form of the theme, I think you really do need to do the repeat (of only the second half of the theme), he also used the same form in the Fantasie, it seems important to Franz Strauss that we do this.

Variation I follows. It is marked con licenza and needs rather than sounding sad to sound somewhat playful. Note as well, I varied things on the repeat, this is something to definitely do.

Variation II is marked con anima; it needs to fly along at your best tempo.

The next section is not a variation. Marked Andante cantabile it is, I like to think, sort of a reflective but hopeful sounding section, rather than sad.

The work ends with a Rondo that is based on the theme melody. Allegro vivace is the base tempo but the con passione section needs to push faster, and at the last statement of the theme I opt for a slower more reflective tempo. Check out the ending!

This is a very nice piece that really should be performed more often, with music that is available, as noted earlier, as a free download from IMSLP. I still have plenty of these CDs for sale and do check out more from this and other of my CDs on this YouTube channel.

University of Horn Matters