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Revolutionary Aspects of Rochberg’s Caprice Variation for Unaccompanied Violin

24 August 2021

11:00 - 11:30 hrs (GMT+7)

Hayne Kim



Krittaya Lorpiyanon


Music is continually undergoing revolutionary changes in style. It is often the case, however, that composers acquire ideas or inspiration from composers of the past. In this way, revolution and tradition are linked together. In the twentieth century, George Rochberg (1918-2005) was one such composer who often borrowed inspiration from composers of bygone eras. After a major shift in his writing style in which he turned away from the serialism of his earlier works and returned to the tonal system, Rochberg composed Caprice Variations for unaccompanied violin in 1970. Based on nineteenth-century violinist Niccolò Paganini’s iconic Caprice 24 for violin, each variation either directly quotes music from other composers such as Bach, Brahms, and Schubert, or makes reference to musical styles of the nineteenth and twentieth century, exposing a pluralistic view of music. This paper is a critical exploration and analysis of Rochberg’s Caprice Variations as an example of a piece that presents new ideas from the composer’s own perspective, in combination with traditional and modern styles.

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