flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons
composed in 1985
published by Novello and Co (on sale: catalogue number 09 0577 01 (score) 09 0577 01 (parts))
The Variations on a theme of Schumann, op.23, was Brahms' only extended work for piano duet. It dates from 1861 and its theme was believed by its composer to have been dictated to him by the spirits of Mendelssohn and Schubert, although in fact it strongly resembles a theme in Schumann's own Violin Concerto, written during his final mental disintegration.
In my arrangement of Brahms' Variations I have of course preserved intact the sequence and substance of the original with only one minor alteration. It had always seemed to me that the final variation was slightly too short to function properly as a conclusive coda. When others made the same comment, I ventured to extend the final section by a reprise of the theme itself.