Pandemical Variations

for piano

Stephen Roberts

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for piano

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Composer Stephen Roberts
Year of Composition 2020
Duration ca.14'

Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-sr1pv1


I do not think the word ‘pandemical’ exists, but it whimsically encapsulates this set of variations on a Chopin-esque nocturne I composed during the extended pandemic lockdown of 2020. The ‘lockdown’ nocturne originally stood on its own as an expression of a general sense of nostalgic melancholy and I sent to a pianist friend who had been forced to self isolate and was seeking something to do. She enjoyed playing it through and this led me to expand the themes into a set of variations. Over the course of a week I emailed a new section each day and so the piece unfolded.

There are two themes, one in the minor key, the other in the major. Each develops independently, even though they are interlinked and so, in effect, this is a double set of variations. The word pandemic implies ‘all people’ and the variations echo different styles and eras, gradually becoming more abstract. The rigor of the final fugue on the minor key theme is quickly shrugged off, allowing the major key theme to conclude with optimistic ebullience.