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Theme And Variations Piano Composition Contest

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Theme and Variations Piano Composition Contest


Due Date: Nov. 15th, 2013 


Winner will have their work recorded by me (I have a Steinway Grand at my disposal  :thumbsup:). I'm might have a chance to premier it as well next summer, but I'll need to confirm this at a later date.




1. The piece needs to be in theme and variations form. 


2. The theme is yours to choose but it must have NO repeated sections (Beethoven's c minor variations WoO 80 is a good example of what I'm looking for). I'd prefer a theme that is short and sweet (under 24 bars). It could be an original theme or a theme by another composer (as long as there is no copyright infringement of course).   


3. The piece should be under 15 minutes. 


4. The hardest pieces I've performed include Chopin's 4th Ballade and the Heroic Polonaise op 53, Scriabin's Etude op 8 #12, Beethoven Sonatas and Bach preludes and fugues. If you could keep the difficulty level at or under those pieces that would be appreciated ;)  


Other things to keep in mind : 


5. I would prefer if the piece showcases a variety of styles. Breaks between variations are expected but I encourage you to try and bridge a few together (it's not mandatory).  


6. You are welcome to compose in any style(s) you choose (Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist, the modes of limited transposition, 12 tone, ect...), it's up to you.


7. Submit the piece at any time before the due date and I'd be happy to give some advice on the piano writing. 


8. And most importantly, Have Fun! 


I really hope this catches people's interest, I look forward to your submissions. Good Luck!  :cool:  

Edited by Sonataform
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I believe I have a good piece in mind for some variation-writing.  


I understand you want a short theme, but do the variations have to be the same length, or can they sometimes be expansions (or even contractions) of the theme?  In other words, how strictly/freely do they have to conform to the original theme?

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I believe I have a good piece in mind for some variation-writing.  


I understand you want a short theme, but do the variations have to be the same length, or can they sometimes be expansions (or even contractions) of the theme?  In other words, how strictly/freely do they have to conform to the original theme?


You can augment or contract the theme, that is definitely okay. There are essentially only two things that are mandatory, the theme can not have repeated sections and it needs to be under 15 minutes. 

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Here is mine:



Finally I’ve finished my Theme and Variations for the Sonataform competition.

Although I spent a plenty of time on it, and although I’m very satisfied with the result, I present here the piece, but I think that it is better, that I must not run for the podium, this because my choice of the theme may not be well interpreted, then I think that is useful to present the piece, which I composed for this competition, but at the same time, it is important that this piece doesn’t compete, because I the main theme I choose is a theme by the own Sonataform, the theme from his Sonata “Winter in the Sierra.”


Once and again I hope that my choice won’t be misunderstood. And although I’m not entering directly in the competition, I challenge Sonataform to record this variations, if you like it of course!


I tried in the variations to follow the maximum I could your romantic style, and mixing it a bit with mine.

The first variation is the most easy.

The second is more abstract, I preferred in the most of the variations to hide the theme, it is always there, but it is hidden. I tried to have a unity of character and style, but inside this unity contrasts.

In the third variation, the theme starts in the bass.

4th – This variations shows clearly that I tried to take advantage from the character of the theme, although I looked to it in a completely different and joyful way.

The fifth is one of the more similar to the theme, although it introduces a game between tonalism – modalism, d major – a major.

In the sixth I alternate the cells of the theme between the different hands, but this one is on D minor. The war between D major and b minor is finished, although we can say that a new problem appeared – d minor. J

And d minor persists in the seventh variation, which is clearly a simple choral, that has the theme minored in the alto.

The eight theme, which is my favourite, is in F major, and exploits the richness of this key.

D minor returns in the nineth variation, and now the appoggiaturas from the main theme, which were misused in the other variations, are now present.

In the great majority of the variations I had your style in mind, and for me it is particularly evident in the tenth variation, which has also a great contrast, it is the war between D major – D minor, but in the end of this variation, D minor is the key which won.

Then in the XI Variation D minor is powerful than ever, the theme is hidden in a game between left hand and right hand.

Then I made an interlude – a fugue, which the main cell is based on the main cell of your theme – this fugue is a tribute for your organ fugue which you dedicated to me, when I composed this fugue I had yours particularly in mind.

But the fugue is suddenly interrupted and gives place to a world of no where – a misterioso – and from the ashes appears victorious – The Theme – D Major – Maestoso! And the XII Variation (which is almost a recapitulation of the theme) works as a Heroic Coda.


I sincerely hope you like it! The piece is obviously dedicated to you.


Ps – I must say with no doubt that a work with such climate doesn’t beneficiated with the Sibelius sound, it need expression, pedal, rubatos, etc etc…

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@Austenite: Beautiful piece Austenite, I like those 6/8 rhythms during the coda. I'm glad you submitted an entry :)


It seems we've got 4 entries (hope I didn't miss anybody). I'm going to print all the sheet music out tomorrow and review all of them carefully before making my decision. Thanks again for all the entries. They are all so different and beautiful in there own way. It will be a tough decision! 

Edited by Sonataform
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As promised, I recorded the winning piece. I went through each entry thoroughly and all of them were beautiful. But I think Austenite's piece had the variety I was looking for and I simply found myself playing it more then the others. You all did an awesome job and I'll review each of them in detail. I humbly thank all of you for your entries and I hope that you might participate in future competitions that I might hold. Thanks again ! 
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