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“The President’s Own”

United States Marine Band

Lieutenant Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Themes and Variations

By Master Sg.t Kristin duBois | “The President’s Own” | February 21, 2014

Feb. 20, 2014 -- The month of February comes to a close with a concert by the Marine Band titled “Themes and Variations.”
Conducted by Director Colonel Michael J. Colburn, the performance will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23
at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, Va.

While it is widely understood that variety is the spice of life, it is that and so much more in the “life” of classical
music. The idea of varying a melody by adding notes and altering rhythms likely stems from the use of
improvisation as practiced by the early masters of the keyboard.

“This theme and variation premise afforded me the opportunity to conduct two works that I’ve never had the
opportunity to lead: Arnold Schoenberg’s classic Theme and Variations, and a new setting of an orchestral work
that I’ve long thought could sound splendid in a band transcription, Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations,” Col.
Colburn said.

One such master of the theme and variation form was the Dutch composer Jan Pieter Sweelinck, who was
active in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The form persisted and developed throughout the
Classical and Romantic eras, and indeed continues to this day. In the hands of composers like Dan Reeves and
George Gershwin, the variation form was a vehicle for demonstrating a performer’s technical proficiency, while
composers such a Schoenberg and Elgar used the genre to demonstrate their prowess as composers, cleverly
hiding their themes in a wide range of stylistic and compositional disguises.

Click here for program and notes.


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