Does anyone know what the Mozart theme is or where it comes from that is used in the “Variations on a Theme by Mozart” by Anonymous, arranged by Odette LeDentu for lever harp? I’m looking for information for program notes for a student. Does anyone have any additional information on this piece?
I am always on the lookout for music to play at church services so this prompted me to listen to the piece. I went to youtube and found a clip by Josh Layne. It turns out he, too, listened to recordings. He found in the notes of one recording that the piece is actually the first of four airs by French composer Martin Dalvimare. Josh then went to ISLMP and found the original air and confirmed this.
Thanks, Gretchen. That’s really helpful. And thanks for the quick answer. Did Josh happen to discover what the original Mozart theme was on which Martin Dalvimare wrote the air? I’ll go check IMSLP also and see if there’s any further info.
I appreciate your help.
The original has a few differences from Le Dentu’s arrangement -including occasional F sharps and harmonics – I find it more interesting than the Le Dentu version but so hard not to play what I learnt first. I am unconvinced it is Mozart – the printed Dalvimar edition calls it Pas de trois introduced in Achille et Deidamie but doesn’t credit a composer and I couldn’t find it in the Campra score of A&D so either it was a different A&D, a stray dance introduced (which happened) or I just missed it.
Following up Tacye’s comment, I think the attribution of the theme to Mozart is completely false. This set of variations appears in a group of “Four Favorite Airs Arranged for Harp” by Dalvimare but as she points out, it is a pas de trois from the opera Achille et Deidamie. Also in that set of four is a duet from La Clemenza de Tito by Mozart and I think that’s where the misattribution came from.
The opera “Achille et Deidamie” was an opera tragique written by Andre Campra and debuted on Feb. 24, 1735. My guess is that with the way compositions where arbitrarily dropped into other works during this period, it’s probably something by Campra but unclear whether it was specifically for Achille et Deidamie or just an add-on.
There may have been several other operas of the same title by other composers in the same period, just as Rossini and Paisiello both composed operas entitled “The Barber of Seville.” Classical, mythic subjects were used over and over again.
Glinka’s Variations on a theme of Mozart are an interesting example, in that he rewrote the theme instead of taking it literally from the Magic Flute.
I had a look for more info about this a couple years ago, and then was looking again this week when I found your most helpful discussion. I went to the IMSLP website which has the facsimile of the (published) Dalvimare variations. There was also a link to a second handwritten sheet that had the theme with a title of “Air tire des Ballet des Noces de Gamache”. A little more Wikipedia work turned up the composer of the ballet, one François-Charlemagne Lefebvre. That in turn led me to a facsimlile of a handwritten manuscript held by University of Lousville that has on its title page “Air tire du Ballet des Noces de Gamache Varie Pour La Harpe Par P. Dalvimare.
I’m going with that! Thanks for the leads. The piece has become one of our ensemble favourites. We play the theme together, and then individuals or duos tackle the variations, and I’ve written another one for more beginners. We do the theme all together again at the end. It’s pretty great teaching material, and the kids who have done the simplest versions when they were 7 have the whole thing in the ears when it’s time to do it as a solo piece. This time I’m setting it as a project for the All Island Harp day for adults. Can’t wait!
I used to play it quite a bit as a duet – with only a little tweaking several of the variations work really well played two at a time.
It would be great if you can find the theme in the Lefebvre score – but I suspect the manuscript may be wrong about the title, rather than the published version. Dalvimar published a different piece from the Noces de Gamache ballet, a Fandango, and whoever copied the music may have got in a muddle.
The Lefebvre score is here if anyone feels like looking through for the theme.
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