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Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33 (1876-77)

Notes by Michael-Thomas Foumai

Characterized by elaborate decorative architecture and art consisting of scrollwork and asymmetrical patterns, the Rococo style (or Late Baroque style) began in 18th-century France as the "Rocaille style." With an affinity for Mozart and the 18th century, Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) composed the Variations on a Rococo Theme (1876-77) to channel his admiration of the ornate style and early Classical music. The original theme, composed in a style reminiscent of Boccherini, Haydn, and Mozart, is fashioned into a series of eight variations; four will be performed on this program (Variations I, II, III, and VII). German cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen premiered the work in Moscow on November 30, 1877.

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