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In 1841; at the height of his mastery; Mendelssohn wrote three variation cycles for piano in quick succession. The first of them; the “Variations sérieuses” op. 54; should probably be regarded as his most important piano work. It formed part of an anthology of works by renowned composers of the time; proceeds from the sales of which were intended for the erection of a Beethoven monument in Bonn. At that time; there was something of a production line of so-called “Variations brillantes” for piano; Mendelssohn gave his seventeen Variations in D minor op. 54 the tile “Variations sérieuses” to distance himself from these. The beautiful main theme has an earnest; poignant character that is sustained throughout all the transformations.
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