Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Northey conductor
Li-Wei Qin cello
Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations
Elgar Enigma Variations
About this performance
Composers have long used the idea of variations to extend and play with their own (and others’) musical ideas – there are recorded instances of this technique from as early as 1538! This program explores two of the best-loved ‘variations’ examples – Tchaikovsky’s Rococo and Elgar’s Enigma.
- Tchaikovsky was going through a period of depression when he wrote this work, but used his compositional practice to improve his mood. He told the cellist (and the dedicatee of the Rococo Variations) Wilhelm Fitzenhagen that Rococo meant “a carefree feeling of well-being.”
- Elgar’s beloved Enigma Variations represent his friends, an idea that came to him as he was noodling at the piano when his wife interrupted to tell him she quite liked the tune! He did not know what he had been improvising, and thus the Enigma theme was born. The other fourteen variations are named for friends and colleagues.