BRAHMS, Johannes, 1833-1897

Variationen für zwei Klaviere über ein Thema von Joseph Haydn op.56b
Variations for Two Pianos on a Theme by Joseph Haydn op.56b

Facsimile edition of the original manuscript in the Music Collection of the Wiener Stadt-
& Landesbibliothek edited by Ersnt Hilmar

Brahms, Haydn Variations for Two Pianos op.56b  

I sometimes ponder on variation form and it seems to me it ought to be more restrained, purer. Composers in the old days used to keep strictly to the base of the theme, as their real subject. Beethoven varies the melody, harmony and rhythms so beautifully. But it seems to me that a great many moderns (including both of us) are more inclined—I dont know how to put it—to fuss about the theme. We cling nervously to the melody, but we don't handle it freely, we dont really make anything new out of it, we merely overload it. And so the melody becomes quite unrecognizable.

Brahms, letter to Joseph Joachim, Dusseldorf, June l856


Schriftenreihe zu Musik, 1. Oblong, 35 x 25 cm, xvii, 19 pp. Line-cut of the autograph. This is Brahms’ last large-scale piano work, composed during a summer retreat in Tutzing, 1873. C.F. Pohl, Haydn biographer and librarian of the Vienna Philharmonic Society provided Brahms with the theme—“Chorale St. Antoni”—at the time mistakenly attributed to Haydn. Although it is not known for sure if the piano version (op.56b) preceded the orchestrated version (op.56a), it is known that he first revealed the 2-piano version to Clara Schumann, and two months later presented the orchestra version to his publisher. Introduction in German. Wrappers, with reproduction of a woodcut of Tutzing
on the cover. $48

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Brahms, Haydn Variations for Two Pianos op.56b, cover

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