The Variations

Variazioni sul Canto Greco di Cavallini per Banda, Op. 144, PP.135.14

The exact source of these variations was unknown until Dr. Howey built the database of concerts from the pages of the biweekly Corriere Cremonese as the extant autograph does not identify the source of the theme. Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874) was solo clarinet at La Scala and professor of clarinet at the Milan Conservatory while Ponchielli was student. If one enters the search terms "Cavallini - Canto greco - Milano" into GOOGLE, a list of "GOOGLE" books will appear with multiple listings of performances of a version of this melody with variations for clarinet (Cavallini himself) and string quintet. The string version exists in two copies to be found in Naples and Philadelphia.There is a modern edition from Eufonia but only for piano. Adriano Amoreis kindly thanked for his several contributions to this effort.

In comparing the two pieces it is obvious that Ponchielli used only the theme statement in his set of band variations. Cavallini's ten variations equal Ponchielli's ten though Ponchielli's have a full ensemble that carries more of the load where Cavallini must defer to what amount to piano/string interludes. In Ponchielli's case a single variation might have as many as three distinct sets of instrumentations.

These variations can be seen to draw directly from Cavallini's only in the theme statement and the number of variations. Beyond that, no direct comparison can be made to Cavallini's variations. The lone connection seems to be the simple theme statement that may have come from a piano part, likely held by any of the band's clarinet players. Its single performance is the norm for Ponchielli's "original" compositions for wind band. After Ponchielli's departure there is no further mention of it save the entry in the 1880's catalog of the band's score library.

Date on score: Friday, April 16, 1869, Cremona

Performances: Thursday, August 11, 1870, Piazza Garibaldi.

Modern Adobe PDF

Modern as MP3


Original as MP3

Original Adobe PDF