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33 Variations on 33 Variations. Fyodor Lednev, Yaroslav Timofeev, MCME

15 Jun 2024, 20:00–21:30
Age restrictions

Conductor Fyodor Lednev presents the Moscow premiere of a composed interpretation by Hans Zender.



Hans Zender (1936-2019)
33 Variations on 33 Variations (2011/2019)

A composed interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli (first Moscow performance)

In 1819 the Viennese publisher and composer Anton Diabelli invited fellow composers to write one variation each on a theme—a short waltz—written by Diabelli himself. The resulting theme and variations were to be published in a single volume. Those who took up the invitation included Franz Schubert, the very young Franz Liszt and other less well-known musicians of the time. Beethoven, although included in the invitation, was initially unwilling to participate in the collective project, but eventually went far beyond Diabelli’s original terms of reference. In 1823 he completed not one but 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, which have gone down in musical history as the most ambitious work for piano ever to come from under his pen. From a theme that he had at first judged banal Beethoven created the most complex variation cycle ever known. The pianist Hans von Bülow called the 33 Variations “a microcosm of Beethoven’s genius and an image in miniature of the entire world of musical sounds.”

Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble | MCME

Fyodor Lednev conductor
Presented by Yaroslav Timofeev

Photo: Anya Todich

The German composer Hans Zender (1936–2019) left his mark on contemporary music as the creator of a new genre, which he called composed interpretation—orchestral versions of works from the European musical canon, which in his words balance between “absolute fidelity to the original and its complete destruction.” After giving this treatment to the Winterreise by Schubert (recomposed for orchestra and voice as Schubert’s Winterreise, 1993) and Schumann’s Fantasy in C Major for piano (recomposed as Schumann Phantasie, 1997), Zender turned to the Diabelli Variations and gave himself as much freedom with them as Beethoven did with the original theme. Zender’s 33 Variations on 33 Variations (2011/2019) are a reminder of how avant-garde the musical language of Beethoven’s cycle was for its time: Zender explores the phenomenon of what Theodor Adorno, describing the style of the late Beethoven, called “the radical emancipation of music.”

Fyodor Lednev (b. 1971, Minsk) is a conductor. He graduated from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory specialising in choral conducting (1995) and opera and symphonic conducting (1998). Since 1995, he has taught at the Saint Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Music College. He has appeared as guest conductor with leading Russian orchestras, including the Svetlanov State Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, the Russian National Youth Symphony Orchestra, the musicAeterna Choir and Orchestra and others. He has been the resident conductor of musicAeterna since 2019.

Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (MCME) was founded in 1990 by composer Yuri Kasparov assisted by Russian avant-garde luminary Edison Denisov. MCME was the first Russian ensemble to focus on music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and performance of new pieces by contemporary composers. MCME has given Russian and world premieres of more than 1000 works.

Yaroslav Timofeev (b. 1988, Novgorod) is a musician, musicologist, concert presenter, and lecturer. He is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, chief editor of Musical Academy magazine and has worked since 2010 at the Moscow Philharmonia (Russia’s largest concert organisation) where he leads a number of projects: Mum, I’m Crazy about Music (since the 2017/2018 season), The Language of Music (co‑author and presenter since 2018/2019), Thing-in-Itself (author and presenter since 2021/2022), and All Stravinsky (author and presenter since 2022/2023). He performs as a pianist with the Russian indie group OQJAV.

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