Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, presented, and edited by Fred Flaxman

©2003 by Fred Flaxman

Program 29
"Variations on Very Familiar Tunes"

MUSIC: "Thema" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 2] [under the following]

FLAXMAN: There is perhaps no more familiar tune, at least in the United States of America, than this one. Stay tuned and you'll hear 11 very clever variations on this very familiar song by a very obscure composer named Peter Heidrich.

MUSIC: fades out.

FLAXMAN: You are listening to Compact Discoveries, and I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. I'm going to devote the next hour entirely to "Variations on Very Familiar Tunes." The first selection comes from a CD called "Happy Birthday" and it features violinist Gidon Kremer with the Kremerata Baltica
performing the Happy Birthday Variations, composed in 1994 by Peter Heidrich. Each of the variations on this theme is written in a different style, imitating specific composers or dances of the past. You just heard the "Happy Birthday" theme as it begins this piece. Next comes the first variation, in the style of Joseph Haydn

MUSIC: "Variation 1 nach Joseph Haydn" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 3]

FLAXMAN: Happy Birthday, Mozart style

MUSIC: "Variation 2 nach Mozart" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 4]

FLAXMAN: Beethoven is next

MUSIC: "Variation 3 nach Beethoven" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 5]

FLAXMAN: Johannes Brahms

MUSIC: "Variation 4 nach Brahms" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 6]

FLAXMAN: Schumann

MUSIC: "Variation 5 nach Schumann" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 7]

FLAXMAN: Antonin Dvorak

MUSIC: "Variation 6 nach Dvorak" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 8]

FLAXMAN: Next a polka/waltz, which sounds to me as though it came directly from the pen of a Johann Strauss

MUSIC: "Variation 7, Polka/Valse" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 9]

FLAXMAN: The next variation is in the style of movie music

MUSIC: "Variation im Stil von Filmmusik" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 10]

FLAXMAN: Now Ragtime à la Scott Joplin

MUSIC: "Ragtime" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 11]

FLAXMAN: Happy Birthday, Tango style

MUSIC: "Tango" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 12]

FLAXMAN: The Happy Birthday Variations ends gypsy style

MUSIC: "Czardas" from Happy Birthday Variations by Peter Heidrich, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 13]

FLAXMAN: Happy Birthday Variations by the contemporary German composer Peter Heidrich, who was born in 1935, and, last I checked, was still alive and kicking and having a birthday anniversary every year, just like the rest of us. We heard the Kremerata Baltica with violinist Gidon Kremer.

This Nonesuch compact disc was issued in commemoration of the February, 2002, fifth birthday anniversary of the Kremerata Baltica, a chamber orchestra of young musicians from the three Baltic states: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The CD inspired the theme for this Compact Discoveries program, which is "Variations on Very Familiar Tunes."

Now let's listen to Variations on Auld Lang Syne by Franz Waxman. Waxman lived from 1906 until 1967. He was born in what was then Germany, but is now Poland. In the 1920s and 30s he was a pianist for silent movie screenings in Berlin and Paris, and played in bars and with jazz bands. In his mid twenties he moved to Hollywood, where he built a successful career as a film composer, working with such directors as Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder. Yet Waxman continued to write symphonic and chamber music. He wrote Auld Lang Syne Variations for a New Year's party in Los Angeles in 1947.

Once again, the Kremerata Baltica perform. The violinist is Gidon Kremer; the pianist is Louis Lortie; Ula Ulijona is the violist; and Marta Subraba, the cellist.

The first movement is called "Eine kleine Nichtmusik."

MUSIC: "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 21]

FLAXMAN: "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, movement two, "Moonlight Concerto."

MUSIC: "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 22]

FLAXMAN: "Chaconne a son gout"

MUSIC: "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 23]

FLAXMAN: "Hommage to Shostakofiev"

MUSIC: "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 24]

FLAXMAN: The "Auld Lang Syne" Variations by Franz Waxman, performed by Kremerata Baltica.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to "Variations on Familiar Tunes." Next, one of the most familiar tunes of all, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Here, as performed by Andras Schiff, pianist, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir George Solti, is Ernst von Dohnányi's [Ehrnst Fun DOHKH-neh-nyee's] Variations on a Nursery Song, Op. 25.

MUSIC: Dohnányi: Variations on a Nursery Song, Op. 25, with Andras Schiff, piano and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Sir George Solti [London 417 294-2, tracks 4-17] [24:21]

FLAXMAN: Ernst von Dohnányi's [Ehrnst Fun DOHKH-neh-nyee's] Variations on a Nursery Song, Op. 25. Andras Schiff was the pianist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Sir George Solti.

Finally, here are some other familiar tunes as corrupted by an unfamiliar composer: Teddy Bor. The piece, written in 1981, is called McMozart's Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlicht Nicht Musik. It answers the rarely asked question: What would the music of Mozart had sounded like had he been Scottish? Once again we hear Gidon Kremer with the Kremerata Baltica.

MUSIC: McMozart,s Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlicht Nicht Musik, by Teddy Bor, performed by Kremerata Baltica [Nonesuch 79657-2, track 20] [3:21]

FLAXMAN: McMozart's Eine Kleine Bricht Moonlicht Nicht Musik, by Teddy Bor, performed by Kremerata Baltica, bringing to an end this hour of "Variations on Familiar Tunes."

MUSIC: down and under

FLAXMAN: This is Fred Flaxman thanking you for listening to Compact Discoveries. Please let me have your comments on this program or the Compact Discoveries series in general. You can contact me in care of this station or by e-mail at compactdiscoveries@fredflaxman.com. That's all one word and Flaxman is spelled f-l-a-x-m-a-n: compactdiscoveries@fredflaxman.com. You might also enjoy the Compact Discoveries website at www.fredflaxman.com. There you'll find lots of Compact Discoveries articles.

Compact Discoveries is written, produced, recorded and edited by your guide, Fred Flaxman. It is a production of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: up, then out at 58:00.

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