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Henselt, Adolf von (1814-1889)

Variations de Concert


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This is a physical product, printed on our premium, heavy duty cream paper and wirebound to lay perfectly flat. Looking for the downloadable version? Check out Henselt: Variations de Concert (Download).


The Variations de Concert date from a period in which Henselt was trying to establish his status as a virtuoso par excellence. The work, once used as a calling card by Clara Schumann, differs from so many other virtuosic displays. It is a narrative piece, with magical atmospheric descriptions and poetic storytelling. Of course, it is also a virtuoso piece par excellence, but its musical depth extends far beyond what is usual. The amount of musical material that Henselt manages to extract from Donizetti’s simple theme is unprecedented.

It is music of the new generation. The generation of the great strides, as Moscheles sighed after becoming acquainted with the études of Chopin. Just like Chopin, Liszt, and Schumann, Henselt pioneered new techniques and sounds.

In this publication, we include not only the version that Henselt published as his opus 1 in 1838, but also a version that appeared nearly 40 years later, in 1876, in an album with Henselt’s complete works. The authenticity of this latter version remains uncertain, but the work differs in so many details from the original that it is worth including here. The even richer writing style of some passages inadvertently also shows Henselt’s influence on the Russian piano tradition: those great strides and that lavish counterpoint, all of that came from Henselt, who passed it on to his students and to the musical institutions at whose cradle he stood in Russia.

    Product Details

    Composer: Adolf von Henselt

    Title of the Publication: Variations de Concert

    Opus: 1

    Composition Year: 1837

    Edition Type: Urtext

    Edition Number: FE002

    Editor: Martijn Vromans

    Languages of the Text: English, German, French, and Spanish

    Paper: A4 Clairefontaine 120 gsm cream paper

    Binding: Black steel wire binding

    Pages/Format: Total 52 pages (1 full colour portrait, 2 page introduction, 2 page detailed source commentary, 45 pages of music)

    Weight: 260 g

    Difficulty Level: 10/10

    About the Music

    Atmospheric Opening: The ‘Variations de Concert’ opens with an enchanting and imaginative atmosphere that transports the listener to an almost fairy-tale world. This introduction sets the tone for a rich and profound musical adventure.

    Emotional Transformation: Both in the introduction and in the interlude between the fourth variation and the finale, Henselt transforms Donizetti’s simple, lovely theme into an emotionally charged duet. This transformation is a testament to Henselt’s exceptional skill in shaping musical emotion.

    Virtuosity with Purpose: In Henselt’s hands, virtuosity is not just a display of technical skill but serves a higher purpose: creating a deep emotional experience. Every note contributes to this emotional richness, setting Henselt’s work apart from that of his contemporaries.

    A Musical Epic: This work transcends the traditional concept of theme and variations. It presents itself as a complete musical epic, unfolding the story through four ingeniously composed variations, each enriched with ritornellos. The finale concludes the piece in a triumphant and memorable manner, achieving an impressive coherence and artistic completion.

    About the Composer

    In the pantheon of Romantic composers, Adolf von Henselt stands out as the poet of the piano, whose compositions blend virtuosic technique with deep lyrical beauty. His approach to piano composition and performance marked a significant departure from his predecessors, integrating intricate techniques to enhance expressive depth.

    Born to a modest Bavarian family in 1814, Henselt's prodigious talent catapulted him into the echelons of European music royalty. His early achievements, buoyed by the support of Ludwig I and mentorship under Johann Hummel, set the stage for a career that would navigate both dazzling success and personal battles, including his struggle with stage fright.

    Henselt's move to Russia marked a new chapter, where he shifted focus from performing to teaching, profoundly influencing the Russian piano tradition. Henselt's impact is traced through his students and their successors, such as Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Goldenweiser and Siloti, embedding his approach into the core of Russian pianism. Despite facing obscurity after his death, Henselt's oeuvre has been reevaluated, revealing a composer whose works epitomize the Romantic pursuit of emotional depth and technical perfection, ensuring his place in the annals of music history.


    • Portrait
    • Introduction (English, German, French or Spanish)
    • Variations de Concert, Op. 1
    • Critical Commentary (English, German, French or Spanish)
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    • Premium Editions

      Our paper editions are pleasing to the eye: gorgeous and heavy cream paper produced in an environmentally friendly manner. We print our albums ourselves and use pigmented ink instead of toner. Due to the ink soaking into the paper, a beautiful print is created. All our albums are bound with a steel binding spine, so the albums last a long time and stand perfectly flat on the piano.