Tune of the Day: Variations on a Theme by Rossini
This set of variations on a popular Rossini aria is charming, fluent, and not lacking in imagination. It is in a typical variation form for the period, with each of the four variations a decorated version of the original tune. The theme of these brilliant variations comes from the aria “Non più mesta accanto al fuoco”, which is the finale of Rossini's opera “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella). In this aria, Angelina (aka Cenerentola) bids farewell to all the days spent as a housekeeper in her stepfather's house. Rossini, much admired by Chopin, composed the entire opera in 24 days.
The occasion for Chopin's writing this piece, at the age of 14, is not known, but it was most likely written for the composer's father (an amateur flute player) or one of the other flute players the elder Chopin knew and often played with. It is fortunate that the work survived. It appears that there was only one manuscript copy, and that it was kept by one of the composer's friends. The work did not appear in print until 1953.