Twelve Variations on "See the Conquering Hero Comes"-EH/PN
Composer: Beethoven, Ludwig van
Publisher: B&D Publications
Twelve Variations on "See the Conquering Hero Comes"
from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus
for English horn and piano
by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)- German composer
Beethoven wrote three sets of variations for violincello and piano during his early years. The first of these is based on a theme from the chorus, "See the Conquering Hero Comes" from Act III of Handel's oratorio, Judas Maccabaeus. It was composed in 1796 and published by Artaria in the summer of 1797 without an opus number, but dedicated to princess Maria Christiane von Lichnowsky. Thus the WoO (Woks without Opus) cataloging number. it is likely that the composer himself first performed these variations with the court cellist Jean-Louis Duport, while on a concert tour accompanied by his patron, Prince Karl von Lichnowsky.
This theme in its original form has become famous as the musical source for several church hymns and has long been popular with oboists. it is even found in one of the beginning method books for oboe by Gekeler, albeit in a simplified versions. Beethoven's variations take us from the majestic to the dancelike to a quietly introspective dialogue between the two instruments. The original, with a few slight modifications for range, adapts quite well to the English horn, and is here presented as an addition to the repertoire for the alto member of the oboe family. It has proven to be a great audience pleaser as well as being a work that gives both parties a chance for varied musical expression.