Monday, October 15, 2012

Why So Serious?

I hope your Monday is going well. If it's not, say, if it's too dignified, here's something that might help. It's a piece by Mozart, a set of variations on a children's tune. It was originally written for the piano but I've committed sacrilege by playing it on the organ. The whole thing happened rather suddenly when I was seated at the organ the other day and someone told me about a wedding in which the couple asked that this piece be played for their recessional. Kind of an unusual choice, I thought, and promptly started trying out different combinations of organ stops on the various variations to see what kinds of things one could do with such a piece. The recessional is actually going to be played on the piano, but I still had to have my fun. So did Mozart, apparently.

Mozart could be quite a serious fellow, at times, but he could also be the patron saint of composers with ridiculous senses of humor. He was also known to enjoy bathroom humor. There, I've said it, ok?! The great Wolfgang Amadeus liked fart jokes. (Boy, this blog is going downhill fast.) If you are similarly inclined, you can skip directly to variation ten.

The other eleven variations aren't bad, either. I've actually grown to like number 11 because, being the obligatory slow and expressive variation, it has such an ennobling character, yet all the while we know what theme he's developing... Anyway, have a listen. What's your favorite variation? And, do you think they'll take away my musician's license for this?

Mozart: Variations on "Ah, vous, dirai je maman" for piano, as played on the organ by yours truly
Variation 1
Variation 2
Variation 3
Variation 4
Variation 5
Variation 6
Variation 7
Variation 8
Variation 9
Variation 10
Variation 11
Variation 12


  1. Rookie mistake...I had the wrong box checked in the comments section and it only allowed comments from people who have Google accounts (odd how that just happens to be the default). I've straightened that out and now anybody can leave a comment without signing up for anything (but if you insist on three installments of $49.95, I guess I'll take it...) If you tried to leave a comment yesterday but were prevented from doing so, my apologies. I'll try to be a better host next time!

  2. Well today is my first day reading your blog (because I'm slow at checking FB and finally saw Kristen's post about it). Here are my thoughts on your variations that I really like:
    Var 5 -- Toilet Tinkles (you said potty humor!!)
    Var 6 -- Truer to the theme but still with those VERY Mozartesque runs
    Var 7 -- Pretty sure I tried to learn this at some point in my piano lessons
    Var 8 -- What you'd hear in a FANCY elevator as it went up 100+ floors
    Var 9 -- The Magic Flute meets fart jokes
    Var 11 -- Definitely more Church Like than the others. Good Prelude. . .
    Var 12 -- Prelude-esque as well. . . seriously sounds like fun to play if not dizzying with all those runs and trills

  3. Indeed! The 5th variation is fairly "tinkly" in the piano original, but I used a high "mutation" stop which added to the effect. Variation seven is a lot of fun at high speed--Mozart is really just taking the opening jump, i.e. "twinkle TWINKLE" and, instead of going up only five notes, he explodes it to two octaves, sort of like an editorial cartoonist taking a particular facial feature and really exaggerating it. But it is also just a plain old C scale, so ::sigh:: I can imagine piano teachers just loving it. And students maybe not so much. Love the elevator idea (is it the tremolo, perhaps? and the Magic Flute. You know, organists do sometimes have a bad habit of disguising silly tunes so they sound like nice little church pieces unless you are listening VERY carefully. I think they do this when they get bored. Good thing I never get bored in church! :)


I don't bite...mostly.