Variations sérieuses

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Beethoven Monument in Bonn

Variations sérieuses, Op. 54, is a composition for solo piano by Felix Mendelssohn consisting of a theme in D minor and 17 variations. It was completed on 4 June 1841. A performance lasts about eleven minutes.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3] (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.[4]

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 it, including Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, Rena Kyriakou, Vladimir Sofronitsky and Murray Perahia.


  1. Theme: Andante sostenuto
  2. Variation 1
  3. Variation 2: Un poco più animato
  4. Variation 3: Più animato
  5. Variation 4
  6. Variation 5: Agitato
  7. Variation 6: A tempo
  8. Variation 7: Con fuoco
  9. Variation 8: Allegro vivace
  10. Variation 9
  11. Variation 10: Moderato
  12. Variation 11: Cantabile
  13. Variation 12: Tempo del Tema
  14. Variation 13: Sempre assai leggiero
  15. Variation 14: Adagio
  16. Variation 15: Poco a poco più agitato
  17. Variation 16: Allegro vivace
  18. Variation 17
  19. Coda: Presto


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