Masterclass: Cellist Raphael Wallfisch on Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme

2007, Raphael Wallfisch1, cr Benjamin Ealovega

Wallfisch explores why cellists should investigate the original version of this famous work, in this article from February 2015

Tchaikovsky dedicated the Variations on a Rococo Theme to the German cellist and teacher Wilhelm Karl Friedrich Fitzenhagen. The two met as professors at the Moscow Conservatoire; Fitzenhagen was the cellist in the first performances of all of Tchaikovsky’s string quartets in the 1870s and played in the premiere of the Piano Trio in 1882. On completing his sketches in 1876, Tchaikovsky gave the solo part to his cellist friend to edit and then scored the piece, allowing Fitzenhagen to edit it further. In fact the solo part in variations 1–6 is almost all written in Fitzenhagen’s hand!

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