Variations on a Birthday Theme
In The Style of Paganini and Wieniawski
By Bruce Dukov ©2000
"If Paganini and Wieniawski could have heard the tune of 'Happy Birthday', they most certainly would have written variations on it." At least that is the opinion of virtuoso violinist BRUCE DUKOV, who has actually gone as far as composing a work entitled "Variations on a Birthday Theme in the Style of Paganini and Wieniawski for Violin Duet.
In a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek treatment, he imagines the two previously mentioned giants of the violin, playing the duet together- with neither playing second fiddle! This is cleverly accomplished by alternating the solos and calling the parts "Primo Violino" and "Violino Primo"!
The brief, five minute piece was written for Nathan Milstein's 80th birthday, with an added variation in honor of Henri Temianka's 80th. Such notable violinists of today, like Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman (who played with Dukov for Milstein's party) have said how enormously they enjoyed the piece; and most knowledgeable violinists and musicians will delight in picking out the familiar quotations from well known Paganini and Wieniawski works, all set against the tune of "Happy Birthday". For example, Variation I is based on Paganini’s “Nel Cor Piu Non mi Sento” and Variation VI draws from Wieniawski’s “Scherzo Tarantelle” (for Henri Temianka). The Finale combines motifs from “God Save the King” and Paganini’s 16th Caprice (in the major!). You may expect five minutes of breathless violinistic pyrotechnics!
An interesting stereo effect is also created by the alternating solo lines, and Bruce Dukov has recorded the piece with (or against!) himself. You can hear the distinct separation in the left and right channels of your stereo system.
In another inspired flourish, Dukov has also rewritten Sousa's "Stars & Stripes" in the style of Wieiawski, for violin duet. It is a guarantee, you have NEVER heard this piece played in this fashion!!!! Smiles all around, when you hear this.
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