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Handel: 12 Variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: musical down-sizing, anyone?

Beethoven loved to look back at the music of past masters, especially at works by Bach, Handel and Mozart. In fact, he loved to quote themes or create pieces based on snippets of their music. Over the course of his life, he wrote several sets of themes and variations for various ensembles based on themes from such works as Mozart’s The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro, Salieri’s version of Falstaff, and even a set of variations on “God Save the King” and “Rule, Britannia.” This piece, a set of variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes,” is based on a chorus from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabeus . This isn’t the only time that Beethoven looked to Handel for inspiration, though. In a very famous passage in his monumental Missa Solemnis, Beethoven quotes the phrase “And he shall reign for ever and ever” from the Messiah ! You can say that Beethoven had a particular love for the music of Handel, even going so far as to call him, at that time, “the greatest composer that ever lived.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Georg Frideric Handel/Ludwig van Beethoven: 12 Variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes”
Mischa Maisky, cello; Martha Argerich, piano — Beethoven: Cellosonaten Opp. 69 & 102 (Deutsche Gramophon Imports, 1993)
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Georg Frideric Handel/Ludwig van Beethoven: 12 Variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes”
Mischa Maisky, cello; Martha Argerich, piano — Beethoven: Cellosonaten Opp. 69 & 102 (Deutsche Gramophon Imports, 1993)
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album cover

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