Variations on a Theme by Mozart? for Harp Day ... or What I did this weekend

One of the pieces we'll do is the theme and variations that are published in an edition by Odette Le Dentu called Variations on a Theme by Mozart.  She gives the composer as Anonymous.

I've previously tried tracking down the composer and looking for the theme because I've heard it claimed several times that the theme was not by Mozart. Though I had failed in the past to turn up anything,  this weekend, thanks to digitizing of music, I finally tracked it down.

I had some initial help from some people on the harp column forums that gave me the possible name of the writer of the variations which I'm now pretty confident is Marie-Pierre Dalvimare, a french composer. That led me to find, after a little looking in the IMSLP database, a facsimile of an original publication by Dalvimare, which was a set of 4 pieces, one of which was the variations! But that publication gave no attribution for the original theme - not uncommon then. (the second piece in the set of four is attributed to Mozart) However, I also found in the database a one page copy of the theme, with no variations, but which someone had helpfully tagged with Dalvimare's name. The sheet is handwritten and says it is an air from the ballet des noces de Gamache.

A little more wikipedia tracking to find the composer of the ballet, F.C.Lefebure) and then in searching for any digitized version of the ballet, so I could look for the theme within, I found that the University of Louisville has handwritten manuscript of the theme (by Lefebure) and variations by Dalvimare. Hidden in plain view!  But if you're looking for a set of anonymous variations on a theme by Mozart, google isn't going to get you there!

I still haven't seen the ballet score so I could see for myself the source, but this seems like a pretty good bet.

So, a nice long story to say a few things:

1. I'm working on a couple of the pieces to have ready to download soon. It won't be the whole thing.

2. If you have a copy of the "Variations on a Theme by Mozart" you can use that for the harp Day, and it will be the easiest music to read especially is you are preparing any of the variations. It is available from Long and McQuade and other places for around $18.

3. If you want to download and print the set published by Dalvimare just click here. It is not bad considering it is a scan of something published 200 years ago. There are very few differences. We'll use Le Dentu's version mostly, so you can ignore the F#'s  in variation 2.

4. I have one more variation that I've written, and I'll have that up soon. 4b, I think it will be.

5. Last thing, for Aimee and all curators everywhere. Digitize your collection of music, and post it where musicians can do honour to the work of the past masters by performing their works today!  And thanks to the Ricasoli Collection of the University of Louisville.


PS. there is just a little more mystery to solve. One of the people posting about this said the original publications said it was the Pas de trois introduced in Achille et Deidamie, an opera by Campra. (about 75 years before des Noces.  But it was common in those days for composers to drop other works into their ballets and operas, so that may be true as well!!  That will need to wait till the summer.



Beginner group class - 8 sessions Jan 18 - March15

Beginner group class - 8 sessions Jan 18 - March15


at Duncan Studio - 1:45 pm

Winter Harp Retreat in Wells BC.  Island Mountain Arts is the home of the famous summer harp school, but this a retreat where we enjoy the white season! There will time off in the afternoons to cross-country ski or snowshoe (and some loaner stuff to help you do it) with harp classes and music morning and night. Register through Island Mountain Arts. For those islanders a little unused to snow, I will driving up, and you can come along, and there are flights available too to Quesnel or Prince George! The roads are usually good, and the light is fantastic. Come and experience a winter harp and snow delight!