Thursday, February 25, 2010

Variations on a Theme - Music & Novel?

At the SF Symphony a week ago, listening to Beethoven's "Eroica," I was struck (again) by the inherently wonderful idea of Theme and Variations, which he employs in the last movement. And of course, Bach's famous Goldberg Variations came to mind as well. So, being a writerly sort of person, I thought, how about a novel, or series of connected short stories, that would parallel the musical structure of a variation? And immediately following was another thought: I'm sure it's been done. As indeed it has.

A Google search brought up scores of pages of references, one of which I found really interesting enough to request it from my local library branch: "Goldberg: Variations" by Gabriel Josipovici (2002) about a writer in the early 19th century in England who has taken on the job of reading through the night to a man who suffers from insomnia -- which is how the legend of the original Goldberg Variations goes (only substitute Bach and his music for the writer). The novel has 30 chapters, for the 30 variations, and I think it's going to be a very interesting and intellectually stimulating experience to track the two structures together. More to come!

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