"Variations on a Medieval Folksong"

Theme and Variations

String Orchestra

Written in 2003, this piece came out of a discussion between UWF Strings director Leonid Yanovskiy and myself about composing a theme and variations as an educational work for the University's new (at the time) string orchestra. I jumped at the chance and, since I was teaching my music appreciation students about Medieval music at the time, I found myself delving into that era for inspiration for this work.

Looking back to that time, I took a page from many of their composers and decided to use one of the most popular folksongs of the time, "L'Homme Arme," which remained a big hit for as long as two centuries! Think of it as the "Single Ladies" or "Shake it Off" of its day! (Now imagine, "Single Ladies" or, "Shake it Off" being somehow incorporated into serious church music 'cause that's another thing that happened with, "L'Homme Arme" back in the Middle Ages and all through the Renaissance!)

Electronic Demo Excerpts Here

The piece begins with sustained drone notes in the violins and then a solo viola, almost as though going rogue, plays the "L'Homme Arme" theme in a manner probably reminiscent of how it may have actually sounded in a 1450s tavern.

After this, the string orchestra delves into several character variations based on dances ranging from Baroque minuets to Stravinsky and Copland ballets and concluding with grand restatement of the theme by the entire orchestra.


Variations on a Medieval Folksong

String Orchestra: $60 for PDFs of the score and a complete set of parts

Study Score: $15 (PDF)

Copyright 1999-2022 Matthew A. Fossa