Carnival of Venice

This evening at Mozart's Café I will be performing a set of variations on the popular folk theme, Carnival of Venice, arranged by Paul Jeanjean, an early 20 century French clarinetist known for his difficult but beautiful études for clarinet and also for flute. Several other members of the Symphony will join me in a wonderful variety of great chamber music.

I am happy to say, the event is officially sold out. It is one of many fundraisers organized by grassroots supporters and the musicians themselves to support the beleaguered members of the Columbus Symphony, who were unfairly locked out of work June 1st, work legally contracted to them by CSO management, lead by Tony Beadle and Buzz Trafford. It continues to strike me as odd that the very people who should be leading the struggle to save the symphony are, to all public and private appearances, doing the opposite, destroying the soul of a great orchestra in Columbus.

The Venice song is probably familiar to most people, and has been made particularly famous more by the variations written on it than any original sources. I searched for some history of the melody and found only references to the numerous variations for any number of instruments, from flute to tuba. Wikipedia wasn't much help, except to note that the song is associated with the words, "My hat, it has three corners", not very Italian sounding. If anyone has further knowledge of the history of this tune, let me know. (someone forwarded more Wiki info on the piece-More than 150 years ago, French cornetist and teacher Jean Baptiste Arban created the method book, which became the standard manual for brass players all over the world. His playing of and compositions for the cornet helped to establish it as a serious classical instrument. He wrote this set of variations in the early 1860s, undoubtedly inspired by Niccolo Paganini's 20 variations for violin on the same air, which has been attributed both to Paganini and to German opera composer Reinhard Keiser.)

Here is a fine recording of the Jeanjean variations I will play, performed by Duncan Prescott.

Carnival of Venice - Duncan Prescott (Clarinet)


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

2 comments for “Carnival of Venice

  1. December 13, 2008 at

    Interesting, Adam. I can see how it sounds a bit German, kind of “klunky”, heavy footed, like the sound of children dancing in wooden clogs… I also wonder how it became what it is now called.

Comments are closed.