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Variations on a Young Violinist

for violin and string orchestra

Year:  2003   ·  Duration:  11m 30s

Year:  2003
Duration:  11m 30s

Thomas Goss

Composer:   Thomas Goss

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Audio

Sample: Theme and variation 1

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Sample Score

Sample: Page 2, 8-9, 16-17

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Variations on a Young Violinist has the standard form of the classical “theme-and-variations” model. Yet it explores and modifies more than just the ubiquitous theme from Niccolò Paganini’s 24th Caprice, which is stated at the opening. The work also illustrates the varying moods and mindsets of being a young musician, with anxiety, exuberance, melancholy, awe, frustration, hilarity, determination, and giddiness being just a few of the emotional textures that dictate the character of individual sections.

The strings state the theme with terse simplicity before giving way to the solo violin, which banters the melody about with double-stops and bravura swoops and dives. A dancey variation follows with rustling pizzicati supporting a pensive, expanding soliloquy. Rustle becomes bustle with a rhythmically ambiguous tear through the strings. A savage gesture segues to the next variation, alternately suspending and unleashing the nervous energy inherent in the theme. The solo violin now takes a lead role as Paganini’s motive is twisted by a spooky, anguished waltz, exalted in a calm, heartfelt hymn, and saddled in a racing moto perpetuo. There is even a sassy, bluesy turn to the proceedings before the final elegy brings the work to bittersweet, reverent close.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by Santa Rosa Symphony Young People’s Chamber Orchestra

Dedication note

In memory of William J. “Billy” Kwan, Jr. 1982 - 2003

Contents note

THEMA – Allegro Vivace
I. L’istesso tempo
II. Meno
III. Allegro assai
IV. L’istesso tempo
V. Cantando
VI. Largo molto
VII. Presto
VIII. Cool Walk
IX. ELEGY – Doloroso

Performance history

06 Mar 2004: Performed by the Santa Rosa Symphony Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, directed by Linda Ghidossi-DeLuca with soloist Nathaniel Morrison (violin) at the Ives Concert Hall, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, USA

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