Theme with Variations in E-flat major, WoO 24, “Ghost Variations”
In his declining years, Robert Schumann found himself more and more challenged by the encroaching dementia that tormented him and ultimately led to his confinement in an asylum from 1854 until his death two years later. Convinced that he was taking dictation from angelic voices, Schumann wrote down a theme that was in fact his own, used earlier in his little-known Violin Concerto.
Among his very last works is his set of variations on that theme, known as the Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations). His wife Clara suppressed the score, although Johannes Brahms convinced her to allow publication of the theme in 1893. Not until 1939 was the complete work published, edited by Brahms biographer Karl Geiringer. (As a memorial tribute to his friend, Brahms himself had used the unpublished theme for his two-piano Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Op. 23.)
-Dennis Bade served the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly a quarter century as Associate Director and Director of Publications.