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Frédéric Chaslin: Theme and Variations on Mahler's 3rd Symphony

  • for trombone and orchestra
  • 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 2 1 - timp, perc, hp, cel, str
  • Duration: 34’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute (+picc)
    2nd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    violin I
    violin II
    double bass
  • Composer: Frédéric Chaslin

Work introduction

The last time I conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 3, I was impressed while watching and listening the solo trombone of the 1st mouvement. I was thinking, ‘Whoa, this is probably the big solo that ALL trombone players study and play, and certainly the longest and most famous solo in the orchestral literature. So, why not to develop it into a longer piece?’

And of course, variations was the most obvious. A variation takes a part of the theme and develops or transforms it, making it to a totally independent piece. Each variation needs to have its own strong personnality, yet reflects one of many aspects of the original theme.
So, absolutely every note of this 30 minutes long series can be deducted from the original theme.
I chose to make a trip through time, starting with a Polka, because that is the first piece Mahler wrote at the age of 6. Then comes Bohemina Valse because Mahler grew up in Bohemia. Then Leipzig, because that was one of the first important positions of Mahler as a conductor, and Leipzig means Bach, therefore a fugue. Then comes: Jazz 1,(Mahler was ready to explore jazz when he died),  Mahler (a kind of variation using extremely mahlerian style, like a ‘study on Mahler’, then Cauchemar in 12 tones, because Mahler confessed to Alma that the new coming music from Schoenberg was for him like a nightmare, because he then had to admit that his own music was old fashioned. then Eroica, using the last portion of the theme that has an heroic character. Then Jazz 2, then Unfinished, using elements and moods from the last mouvement of the Symphony No. 10 (the Unfinished), yet always developping material from the Theme, then Vision to the Beyond that twists the theme into all kind of lounge, hip-hop and rap styles, and then the finale variation that resumes the beginning of the theme, and turns into a delirium ending into a frantic yiddish dance.

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

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