Variations to Twinkle, Twinkle
By a happy coincidence, just a week after we published a story about the authorship of the world-famous poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star last month, The Syracuse (New York) Symphony Orchestra presented Hungarian composer Ernö Dohnányi 's "Variations on a Nursery Song" for piano and orchestra.
"This grand musical joke, which begins with a long and somewhat Richard Strauss-flavored opening for a very full post-romantic orchestra, scales back noticeably when the soloist launches into a simple version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," music critic Chuck Klaus wrote in the Syracuse Post-Standard.
"It's not every concert work written in 1914 that gets a big laugh, but this one does. Dohnanyi subjects the nursery tune to at times grand and often distinctive variations, drawing on Brahmsian influences as well as more progressive gestures in construction and orchestra."
We don't pretend to know much about classical music, and regrettably had never heard of that composer. Wikipedia, the free (and best) encyclopedia, came to our rescue.
"Although there is much in the music of Dohnányi to give pleasure, he is probably still best known abroad for his Variations on a Nursery Theme, for piano and orchestra," it said.
"Ernö Dohnányi was born in Poszony (now Bratislava) in 1877 and ... played a leading part in forming the musical culture of Hungary.
"... Due to his overt opposition to the association of Hungary with National Socialist Germany, he found it necessary to spend his final years in America, dying in New York in 1960. As a composer Dohnányi was versatile, continuing existing traditions of music, while as a pianist he enjoyed international fame."
We emailed Chuck Klaus, and he kindly offered us this additional information about the composer: