Beethoven's Diabelli Variations

William Kinderman

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


The Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120, represent Beethoven's most extraordinary achievement in the art of variation-writing. In their originality and power of invention, they stand beside other late Beethoven masterpieces such as the Ninth Symphony, the Missa Solemnis, and the last quartets. This study of the compositional history of the work includes the first extended investigation and reconstruction of the sketches and drafts, and reveals, contrary to earlier views of its chronology, that it was actually begun in 1819, then put aside, and completed in 1822-3. The author provides an analytical discussion of the complete work, and demonstrates how insights derived from a close study of the sketches can illuminate Beethoven's compositional ideas and attitudes and contribute substantially to a better understanding of this massive and complex set of variations. The book includes complete transcriptions of the two central documents in the genesis of the Diabelli variations: the reconstructed Wittgenstein Sketchbook and the Paris-Landsberg-Montauban Draft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages248
ISBN (Electronic)9780199851744
ISBN (Print)9780195342369
StatePublished - Oct 3 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Beethoven
  • Diabelli
  • Last quartets
  • Missa Solemnis
  • Ninth Symphony
  • Sketches
  • Variation-writing
  • Variations
  • Waltz
  • Wittgenstein Sketchbook

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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