Cover image for Beethoven's Diabelli variations
Beethoven's Diabelli variations
Kinderman, William.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford [Oxfordshire] : Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1989.

Physical Description:
xx, 220 pages : illustrations, music ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1530 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
MT145.B4 K56 1987 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Beethoven's Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, his longest and most complex piece for piano, stands beside the Ninth Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, and the late quartets as one of the monumental achievements of his last period. In this first extended study of these variations, William Kinderman investigates their compositional origins and explores them in the context of Beethoven's other works of this time. Kinderman shows how he transforms, parodies, and ultimately transcends Diabelli's commonplace waltz in a fascinating series of historical allusions to other composers in the final variations. Kinderman's discussion provides considerable insight into Beethoven's working methods and illuminates the structure of the finished work, and ultimately the nature of the creative process itself.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A solid and detailed study of Beethoven's great but remote last composition for piano, written by a highly regarded Beethoven specialist. The book is in three roughly equal portions, the first giving a meticulous description of Beethoven's plans and sketches for the variations. Kinderman shows a first work period, then an interruption of several years before further sketches transformed the variation set ``from the inside out.'' The second section contains a thorough analysis of the completed composition, emphasizing many features that become clear only in light of Beethoven's involved sketching process. Kinderman also points up some surprising connections with other music of Beethoven's final period. The final third consists of the author's transcriptions of the two main sketchbook sources, thus affording good opportunity for the reader to admire Kinderman's considerable skill in deciphering Beethoven's hand, and his audacity in interpreting Beethoven's intentions. There is much of interest here for scholars and inquisitive performers alike, and the book is recommended for graduate libraries and strong undergraduate collections at schools where there is interest in Beethoven's creative process.-C. Isaac, Austin College

Table of Contents

Editor's Preface
List of the Variations
List of Illustrations
Part 1 The Process of Composition
1 The Interrupted Genesis of the Variations
2 The Early Sketches (1819)
3 The Late Sketches (1822-3)
Part 2 The Compositional Style
4 The Late Compositional Style
5 The Importance of Parody
6 Beethoven's Treatment of the Theme
7 The Opening Variations
8 The Middle Variations
9 Consolidation and Transfiguration
Part 3 Transcriptions of the Sketches
10 Preface
11 Transcriptions
Bibliography of Works Cited
Free CD