Beethoven Writes the Diabelli Variations

The 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120, commonly known as the Diabelli Variations, is a set of variations for the piano written between 1819 and 1823 by Ludwig van Beethoven on a waltz composed by Anton Diabelli.

One of the supreme compositions for the piano, it often shares the highest honours with Bach's Goldberg Variations. The distinguished music writer Donald Francis Tovey has called it "the greatest set of variations ever written." Pianist Alfred Brendel has described it as simply "the greatest of all piano works." It also comprises, in the words of Hans von Bülow, "a microcosm of Beethoven's art." Or, as Martin Cooper writes in Beethoven: The Last Decade 1817 - 1827, "The variety of treatment is almost without parallel, so that the work represents a book of advanced studies in Beethoven's manner of expression and his use of the keyboard, as well as a monumental work in its own right."

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time. He was a musical genius in every sense of the word, and the Diabelli Variations are a perfect example of this. In these works Beethoven takes an unremarkable, mechanical, "cobbler's patch" (Beethoven's own words) of a waltz and turned it into a remarkable and revolutionary musical masterpiece. The Diabelli Variations are made up of 33 separate and completely different variations all based on Anton Diabelli's original waltz.

No other work by Beethoven is so rich in allusion, humor, and parody.”

— William Kinderman