For centuries composers have taken short musical themes, either original or borrowed, and experimented with ways of writing them differently. I find Theme and Variations very intriguing because it opens to creative possibilities. The theme for “Variations on ‘La Folia’” (2011-12) for piano comes from an ancient Portuguese tune, which roughly translates in English to “The Revelry.” Many illustrious composers have written variations on this theme through the ages: from Antonio Vivaldi, to Sergei Rachmaninov.
When I began writing the two versions of “Variations on ‘La Folia’” in the summer of 2011,” I largely drew inspiration from the variations of the two composers mentioned above. My set of twelve variations is also deeply rooted in the music of nineteenth and twentieth century Spanish and French composers. Of course, I also wanted to strive for some originality with this piece. That is why the variations in my work are cyclical; they follow each other without much pause, unlike most Theme and Variation pieces that stop after each variation. Also unlike previous “La Folia” variation pieces, I created a new set of variations for piano that balances musical technique and modern sounds without going to extremes on both ends.