About this work
When Beethoven wrote these charming variations on Mozart's aria ("In Men Who Know the Feeling of Love") about love sweetening every trouble, he was 31. Some have speculated that he shared Papageno's yearning for a soulmate. Ferdinand Ries quipped that he'd heard Beethoven had been in love for a particularly long time, "seven whole months." Whatever the case, Mozart's music must have impressed Beethoven more than its words. For the sake of thematic consistency, he even leaves out the aria's tenderest moment (when Papageno and Pamina sing "Mann und Weib"). His variations create a beguiling variety of moods: melancholic, haunting, determined. The final one seems related to the drama and melody of his Sonata for Cello and Piano in F major, Op. 5 (written a few years earlier) and to the glistening musculature his later works.
Curated by Chanda VanderHart, Pianist and Musicologist