Sergei Rachmaninoff’ Variations on a Theme of Chopin: Genre and Style Interactions




variations, composer’s style, performing repertoire, musical text, genre-style interactions, interpretation


The article highlights various aspects of the stylistic interaction process within the variation genre in Rachmaninoff’ piano works on the example of Variations on the Theme of Chopin.

The relevance of the study is in the emphasis on interpretation aspects in the process of creating a performance version of a musical work. The mutual influences of the artist’s performing and compositional creativity are considered. The range of stylistic appeals to different layers of the musical context of the work is determined. The ways of interrelations with tradition are presented in combination with the semantic coordinates of the hypothetical references to performance repertoire of Rachmaninoff-pianist.

Methodology. In considering Variations of the Theme of Chopin to reflect the interaction of Rachmaninoff’ performing and composing creativity, the principles of structural-functional, genre-style, performing and system analysis methods are applied. This allows deepening the interpretation potential of the work. How the study was done. This perspective of scientific attention to Variations on the theme of Chopin by Rachmaninoff in the organic combination of stylistic contexts of his composition and performance determines the scientific novelty of the study.

The integration of various levels of interpretation in the pianist’s work process is especially relevant for performing a complex work of the piano top repertoire. Main objective of the study. The purpose of this article is to study this stylistic polyphony, the intersection of Rachmaninoff’ style with the piano style of previous eras and the influence of the composer’s performance experience on the process of building the texture of the work. The focus of the research is genre-style interactions in Chopin’s Variations on the levels of composer and performer’s interpretation and the main models of working with external texts that the author uses in the work.

Results and conclusions. The whole layer of hypothetical references of the work to the performance of Rachmaninoff-pianist continues the rather real lines of interrelations with tradition, which reflected in the theme and the intonation plan of the forming of the variation cycle. Each of the variations of the cycle reveals clear allusions to the range of certain author’s works of the composer and a number of opuses from his huge repertoire. The variant circle deploying on the principle of increasing distance from the primary source by figurative definition, genre and style metamorphoses, structural features. In the meantime, composer keep connection with the Chopin theme in each part of the cycle (sometimes only at the micro-intonational level). Rachmaninoff created a symphonic poem for piano. Its scale, dynamics of unfolding, polyphonic plasticity and the beauty of piano colours inspirited by Chopin musical word. Significance. Therefore, Variations on a Theme of Chopin completes a number of variation masterpieces from beginning of 20th century. The finding results of this research can be used especially in the piano performing field.

Author Biography

Stanislav Guminiuk, Tchaikovsky National Music Academy Ukraine

Creative Postgraduate Student at the Department of Special Piano № 2


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