Beethoven, like Mozart before him, was a true master of the variation form. He wrote a total of 21 sets of variations, ranging from short and relatively simple sets, to the massive and demanding Eroica and Diabelli variations.
The 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli were composed in 1819 and revised in 1822/1823, and are dedicated to Antonie Brentano. This work, while dating from the time of his inward-looking late sonatas, represents Beethoven at his most inventive, humorous, and gleeful. The innocuous little theme by Diabelli is turned over, upside down, and inside out in all ways possible and impossible, producing a vast array of bewilderingly contrasting variations. Only Beethoven could culminate such a large work with an intense and driving fugue, and then tack on a mischievous minuet to end it, as if mocking his own achievement. The sheer demands placed on the performer make this a work that is suitable only for the greatest of pianists.
In 1795 Beethoven wrote two sets of variations on a couple of themes from Paisiello's La Molinara. One set is the double-duet "Nel Cor più non mi sento", which is very famous and played many students in their first year of lessons. Wo0 69 is the lesser known - 9 Variations on "Quant'è più bello (l'amor contadino)
33 Variations in C major on an Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120 (1819-1823)
|Op.120||33 Variations in C major on an Waltz by Diabelli||52:35||O'Doan, N.|
32 Variations in C minor on an original theme, WoO 80 (1806)
|WoO 80||32 Variations in C minor on an original theme||11:05||Bertoli, M.|
|WoO 80||32 Variations in C minor on an original theme||11:27||Hillmann, J.|
|WoO 80||32 Variations in C minor on an original theme||11:30||Sinadinovic, D.|
Variations on themes from Paisiello's La Molinara, WoO 69/70 (1795)
|WoO 69||9 Variations on Paisiello's air Quanto e' bello l'amor contadino||5:23||Bertazzi, A.|
|WoO 70||6 Variations on Paisiello's Nel cor piu non mi sento||6:01||Sarro, F.|