Symphonic Variations

Hans Koessler will be familiar as a professor of Zoltán Kodály and other famous Hungarian composers. His compositional oeuvre is little known, even though Symphonic Variations was widely played in the composer’s lifetime at European concert venues and even in the United States.

Dedicated to the “Spirit of Johannes Brahms,” the Symphonic Variations can be regarded as a portrait of Brahms from the perspective of Koessler. He had originally intended to add descriptions to various details of the orchestral work, which consists of a theme and seven variations. These never made it to the score, but the music in itself helps identify the hidden programme. In the first variation Koessler voices his sorrow over the master’s death, proceeds to recall their first meeting in Budapest, then remembers the good friend, and finally pays homage to the German maestro in what is admittedly an imitation of style.

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