This essay on Lennox Berkeley’s Theme and Variations for Guitar serves as the written half of my final dissertation for my bachelor’s degree in classical music, following my studies for Peter Berlind Carlson at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm between the years 2011- 2014. The other half of this project consists of a studio recording and a concert performance of this piece that I have analysed.
The purpose of this project was to provide myself with the best possible conditions to interpret and portray this magnificent and mysterious piece for future performances. Besides the technical difficulties, the form of theme-and-variations especially forces the musician toconfront an array of analytical challenges. Therefore,this analysis focuses mainlyon thematic and structural patterns to present the reader with a clear, and hopefully as objective as possible, main overview of the piece. Toaccompany some of those ideas,several graphical examples are included with passages stripped down to emphasise certain patterns. Since consciousness of the background of a piece of music can sometimes reveal its purpose and intent, I have dedicateda fair section of this paperto the historyof Lennox Berkeleyhimself.
This includes his background, his affiliation with the guitar world and to Angelo Gilardino at Berbèn Publications who commissioned the piecein 1970.