Corelli’s Madness Variations

La Folía (madness, in Spanish) is one of the oldest European musical themes. The first published composition dates back to 1672, and it is believed that the roots of the theme originate from a 16th century Portuguese dance. The dance was related to fertility and was very fast. The name “folia” is most likely due to the fast pace, the noise and the crazy nature of the dance (dancers carrying men, in women’s clothing, on their shoulders). Numerous composers throughout the time (including Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach, Liszt and Rachmaninov) have used it in their work.

I particularly like the piece of A. Corelli, published in 1700. It is perfomed here by N. Milstein. This is what we can find in a great website dedicated to La Folia about Corelli’s masterpiece :

Corelli, Arcangelo (1653-1713)
Violin Sonata in d minor La Follia Opus 5 no.12 (1700): theme and 23 variations.
Opus V (Sonate a Violino e Violone o cimbalo) was first published in Rome on the 1st. January 1700, closely followed by publication in Bologna, Amsterdam (Estienne Roger) and London (John Walsh).
This work has remained a favorite among violinists because of the variety of technical challenges the variations offer to the player. They were extremely popular when they first appeared, and firmly established the composer’s international reputation appearing in over a dozen different editions during Corelli’s lifetime. Less than a hundred year after the first publishing, there had been at least 40 printings and more than 20 revised editions. Delphine Alard and Ferdinand David published performing editions in 1863 and 1867 respectively, but the arrangement by the Belgium violinist Hubert Léonard in 1877 firmly established the work as a mainstay in the repertoire of violinists. The arrangement for recorder was published in 1702 by Walsh & Hare of London as part of ‘Six solos for a flute and bass’.


References and Links :


4 thoughts on “Corelli’s Madness Variations

  1. Very nice. I personally prefer basso continuo be either gamba or cello (it sounds more Baroque to me), rather than piano. To tell you something shocking, I thought about this piece today (the Vivaldi variation), because I missed it since I learned it before summer this year, today is really a strange day (together with the Coffee Cantata incidence)! This has to be stopped, I think.

    1. I play cello (I am still learning), in fact I accompany another cello which plays the melody, but I prefer my part which is more profound (to me). Your piece, sounds Lully + Bach, those double stops toward the end sounds too much like Bach’s violin suites (without accompaniment)

    2. Have you listened to Lully’s music, well, sometimes with a bid of madness… A little story was that in his era the conducting baton was a vertical stick, Lully used it and one day he just used it too vigorously and hurt his feet seriously! Now the baton is so small and light (ha!). In the film “Le Roi danse”, you’ll see the “madness” of Lully, music there is beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s