Diversions - Variations on a Swiss Folk Song

The Solothurnischer Kantonal Musikverband commissioned Diversions as the 1st Division test piece for a competition held in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, in June 1999.

It is a set of variations on Der Heimetvogel, a folk song dating back to the 19th century.

The variations are based on small parts of the tune, rather then the whole melody, and are prefaced by an introduction based on the opening three notes. This is followed by a presentation of the tune itself, which is played twice in different guises.

Variation 1 (Vivo e scherzando)

This takes the form of a moto perpetuo, the main theme starting with the first four notes of the folk song. There is constant eighth-note activity, under which a second theme develops and leads into:

Variation 2 (Subito meno mosso)

A macabre 12/8 march, with a main theme which once again starts with a fraction of the folk song. This is eventually interrupted by snatches of the song itself, played in the lower half of the band. The trombones try to state the theme in full but are in turn cast aside by the march tune which brings the variation to a close.

Variation 3 (Lento espressivo)

An expressive melody unfolds (again based on the first three notes of the folksong, in reverse) and eventually builds to a climax for the whole band. As it subsides, the folk song’s chorus is quietly recalled, leading to a short cadenza which sets the mood for the finale.

Variation 4 (Vivace)

This takes the form of a fugue which develops on strict classical lines. Eventually, the folk song tries to establish itself and, after a full band statement of the fugue theme in two-part counterpoint, a climax is reached and the piece closes with a coda based on material from Variation 1.