The work was written as part of a campaign to raise funds for the erection of a large bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven in his home town of Bonn. The publisher Pietro Mecchetti asked Mendelssohn to contribute to a 'Beethoven Album', published in January 1842, which also included pieces by Liszt, Chopin, Moscheles and others, of which the proceeds would go to the Monument. (Schumann's Fantasie in C was the final result of a work originally intended for the same purpose).
Mendelssohn is known to have written three sets of piano variations, but only this one was published during his lifetime.
Many of the variations require a virtuoso technique. Mendelssohn's good friend Ignaz Moscheles stated "I play the Variations sérieuses again and again, each time I enjoy the beauty again." Ferruccio Busoni also liked the work very much. Many pianists have recorded them, including Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Rena Kyriakou, Vladimir Sofronitsky and Murray Perahia.
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- Variations sérieuses (17) in D minor, Op. 54
- New York Philharmonic
- Todd, R. Larry (2003). Mendelssohn, A Life in Music, p.414. Oxford. [ISBN missing]
- Variations sérieuses, for piano in D minor, Op. 54; Composition Description
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