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(Thema). Poco allegro
1. Variation
2. Variation: Allegro molto
3. Variation: Poco adagio
4. Variation: Tempo di valse
5. Variation: Molto moderato
6. Variation: Allgero
7. Variation: Moderato Finale: Moderato

DURATION: ca. 12 Min.

VERSIONS:
Fassung für Blasorchester (op. 43a) >>> Quellen
Fassung für Orchester (op. 43b) >>> Quellen

PUBLISHER:
G. Schirmer (Music Sales Classical)
Belmont Music Publishers (USA, Canada, Mexico)

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It was Carl Engel, the president of Schirmer Publishing in New York, who suggested to Schönberg that he compose the Theme and Variations for Full Band, Op. 43. Engel had two objectives in mind; for one thing, he believed that the American wind band repertoire should be enriched by a challenging work from an outstanding composer of new music and, for another, he thought that a success in that medium, so popular in America, could help Schönberg out of his financial difficulties.

Encouraged by his son-in-law Felix Greissle (who also worked for Schirmer and had experience with American wind bands), Schönberg finished writing a counterpoint textbook on June 20, 1943 and then went to work on the piece, which he finished on July 3 (see the first draft) and then orchestrated during the next few weeks (the blueprint fair copy bears the date “August 24, 1943” at the end).

Even while the piece was still being written, it soon became clear that the complexity of Schönberg’s setting could possibly exceed the technical capabilities of most American wind bands. So, in a letter dated August 16, 1942, Greissle suggested that Schönberg make a version for symphony orchestra – and the composer seems to have taken up the task with alacrity; the version for symphony orchestra (Op. 43b) must have been finished in October 1943.

Whereas Op. 43b had its world premiere in Boston with Serge Koussevitsky conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on October 20, 1944 (although not to Schönberg’s satisfaction), the wind band version had to wait several years for its own premiere. It seems to have been clear from the outset that Richard Franko Goldman, the conductor of the New York-based Goldman Band (which his father Edwin Franko Goldman had founded), would lead the first performance – which he did, on June 27, 1946 in New York, after a long delay due to Goldman’s conscription for military service.

© Schott Music, Mainz / Universal Edition, Vienna