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About this Piece

History has shorn Haydn’s F-minor Variations of the provisional titles the composer appended to it. Haydn himself referred to it as a sonata, suggesting that it was intended as a movement in a larger composition, or that its scope was sufficient to consider it as a sonata on its own. And, in an obvious act or self-deprecating humor, he wrote a dedication on an early handwritten copy of the piece in which he called this major work “Un piccolo divertimento.” No tiny light piece of music this! 

Gather up all the verbiage and we have Andante and Variations in F minor (Sonata) “Un piccolo Divertimento,” Haydn’s masterpiece for solo keyboard. 

The opening andante is in two halves: the first is a melancholy minor-key march, the second is lighter and decorated by smiling flourishes in the right hand. Each of these halves undergoes two variations. A reappearance of the opening march leads into an extended coda that lifts the entire work to a visionary expressive plane, anticipating the Romantic era by a generation. By turns violent and becalmed, the music thrashes wildly before receding into a mysterious distance.