Wednesday Music: Franck’s Symphonic Variations

Longtime readers with excellent memories may remember that I’ve actually featured César Franck’s Symphonic Variations before. It was a while ago, back in 2014 when I was jobless and in graduate school. (Hence the need for an excellent memory, as I’ve written a ton of stuff since then!) However, that was for a series of posts called Saturday night music and I never really went anywhere with that, so I think it’s fair game to use this piece of Wednesday Music. I’m quite keen to talk about it because it’s one of my favorites.

Here’s a bit about it.

  • This piece is probably the sole reason why the French-Belgian composer César Franck is remembered. Not that his other music is bad, but this one is probably his most well-known.
  • Even though the title of the piece implies it’s a symphony, in structure it’s a lot more similar to a concerto, if you ask me. A solo piano plays a theme and trades it off with the orchestra.
  • After his death, Franck’s students championed this work and it eventually became a part of standard repertoire.

Here’s an excellent performance by Yuri Novikov, a professor of piano at Dnepropetrovsk Conservatory named after Glinka in southeastern Ukraine. I think this recording is great, which is one reason why I decided to share this piece on my blog a second time.

Or click here to watch on YouTube.