November 24, 2009
“Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty. What would life be? Without a song or dance, what are we? So I say, thank you for the music. For giving it to me.”-ABBA
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to thank music for its power to inspire, to unite, to transcend all boundaries. Personally, I thank music for expressing the inexpressible, for giving me something to dance to, for echoing my emotions, for keeping me sane on my daily commute to work.
Looking back, we see that many composers said thank you to their predecessors by writing iconic works of music based on works past. For example, Brahms wrote his Variations on a Theme by Haydn in 1873. Scholars have questioned whether the original work from which Brahms drew his inspiration was actually composed by Haydn, but either way, Brahms was inspired enough to create an entire new work based on a theme from a composer from the past.
Benjamin Britton wrote his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge as a heartfelt thank you to his music teacher and inspiration. The work was based on a theme from the second of Bridge’s Three Idylls for String Quartet (1906). A prolific composer in his own right, Bridge did not achieve the same fame that Britton did. Britton’s “thank you” to his teacher was a sentimental homage, but also an act that immortalized the name of Britton’s beloved teacher.
Perhaps one of the most famous of these musical tributes is Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Hear and watch Rachmaninoff perform this piece.
And then, of course, there are the numerous pop songs based on classical melodies. Check out this list, and brainstorm some of your favorites.
For which music are you most thankful? Tell us below!