Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday"

Posted by: glentek

Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/16/13 04:42 PM

I recently played a collection of variations on "Happy Birthday" by Denes Agay. One of the variations was in the style of Frederic Chopin. I want to know what piece or pieces of Chopin music this variation was modeled after. It does not seem to fit any Chopin music with which I am familiar. The variation is in 9/8 time, in a minor key, and marked "Andante con moto". The main left hand technique is a series of 9 eighth notes each measure, with the first eighth note the root of a chord, and the remaining 8 eighth notes the other notes of the chord. The right hand technique is maintaining a single melody line, and a short cadenza. Any ideas what pieces of Chopin music might fit this description?
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/17/13 10:18 PM

I think he intended to mimic a Nocturne.
Posted by: glentek

Re: Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/19/13 12:36 AM

Originally Posted By: Numerian
I think he intended to mimic a Nocturne.


Do you have a particular one in mind? I don't think any of them are written in 9/8.
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/19/13 08:34 PM

None particular come to mind. I think it is a loose representation of Chopin's dream-like music. Part of the problem is that the theme of Happy Birthday is difficult to adapt into such music.

Schumann did a much better job of creating a Chopin Nocturne in Carnaval, but then he was able to create an original theme.

I have a lot of fun with Denes Agay's variations at music parties. I ask the guests to write down their guesses of the composer being mimicked. If you give them a clue that the variations are arranged in chronological order, it helps a lot.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/19/13 10:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Numerian

Schumann did a much better job of creating a Chopin Nocturne in Carnaval...

Really? I always thought that the 'Chopin' in Carnival was just another of the inside jokes -of which the piece is packed with- which of course makes Carnival such an incredibly fascinating work.

Look at 'Paganini': the last three measures contain a unique pianistic effect which couldn't possibly be replicated on a violin.

Otherwise, 'Chopin' has never sounded like any nocturne I've ever heard, especially given the Agitato marking and the appearance on the printed page. Clearly something else was going on here, and if anyone has more information, do tell!
Posted by: Numerian

Re: Denes Agay variations on "Happy Birthday" - 02/20/13 11:39 AM

I said Schumann did a much better job than Denes Agay at writing a Chopin Nocturne, though that's being a bit unfair to Denes Agay, who had a harder task. But you aren't wrong: Schumann's Chopiniana doesn't really sound like any Chopin Nocturne, and maybe it was just all intended as a joke.

Schumann was an extremely good mimic when he wanted to be. His homage to Mendelssohn after his death sounds so much like a Song Without Words that I have inserted it into recitals when I am playing some of the SWWs, and no one is the wiser.