Danny Boy Variations
for violin duo (1998 / 2008)
duration: 3’
GRT • 134

CD available
The Metallic Violins
James Cuddeford and Natsuko Yoshimoto, violins
Tall Poppies

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Danny Boy Variations, is not strictly in 'theme and variations' form as such. It is essentially a free rumination on sections of the theme, which ultimately leads to a canonic presentation of the theme in pan–pipe tones – intended to create an unworldly atmosphere in memory of Frank O'Brien. The Danny Boy theme is one that I am fond of, particularly Grainger's version for brass band. The theme here is treated playfully but also taps into a strong sense of nostalgia, which is inherent in the tune. While written in 1998, this duo was revised for and premiered by James Cuddeford and Natsuko Yoshimoto at the Adelaide Festival Centre in December, 2007. The piece also exists in a slightly expanded form for string quartet.

“Complementing the opening work of the program (Bunch’s hymn settings) was Stuart Greenbaum’s Danny Boy Variations. Unlike the traditional ‘variation’ form, Greenbaum used only selected fragments of this well–known melody throughout this work. Alongside fleeting glimpses of familiar chords, melodies would emerge as if rising through a mist. A canonic conclusion to the work saw Cuddeford and Yoshimoto turn from each other and slowly walk away as they played the closing pitches, as if retreating to their own world of reminiscences.”
Janet McKay, Resonate, May 2008

“Stuart Greenbaum's Danny Boy Variations is an edgy take on the tune.”
Patricia Kelly, The Courier–Mail, April 2010

“Melbourne composer Stuart Greenbaum weaves in phrases from Danny Boy in his folky set of variations.”
Steve Moffatt, Penrith Press, April 2010

“Stuart Greenbaum's Danny Boy Variations develops fragments of the popular Irish song, progressing from strong and pulsing to quiet and ethereal - perhaps mapping the transition of the song's singer across the veil of Death.”
Anthony Linden Jones, Music Forum, November 2010

“Echoes of folk music appear in Stuart Greenbaum's Danny Boy Variations
Julian Day, Limelight, June 2011