In the early 1820s, Beethoven completed one of the most revered sets of variations for solo piano. Utilizing Anton Diabelli’s simple Waltz in C Major, Beethoven composed 33 variations that demonstrate the breadth of his technical mastery, creativity, humor and knowledge of Western music.

The opening sequence of Tharp’s Diabelli presents a simple movement theme – swinging arms, skips and gallops, a basic waltz step. From there, Tharp matches Beethoven variation for variation. She makes allusions, varies rhythm and tempi, inverts and reverses material from the theme. The mood of each section is distinct: one may be academic and technical, the next theatrical. 

Diabelli is a tour de force requiring technical facility, stamina and dramatic presence from the pianist and the dancers.


  • Malone and Robinson in a promotional photo.  ©Andrew Eccles


Company dancers perform the theme and opening variations.
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Music Program:

Diabelli Variations, or, 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120
Composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven

Var. I. Alla Marcia maestoso
Var. II. Poco allegro
Var. III. L'istesso tempo
Var. IV. Un poco pió vivace
Var. V. Allegro vivace
Var. VI. Allegro ma non troppo e serioso
Var. VII. Un poco pió allegro
Var. VIII. Poco vivace
Var. IX. Allegro pesante e risoluto
Var. X. Presto
Var. XI. Allegretto
Var. XII. Un poco pió moto
Var. XIII. Vivace
Var. XIV. Grave e maestoso
Var. XV. Presto scherzando
Var. XVI. Allegro
Var. XVII. Allegro
Var. XVIII. Poco moderato
Var. XIX. Presto
Var. XX. Andante
Var. XXI. Allegro con brio - Meno allegro
Var. XXII. Allegro molto
Var. XXIII. Allegro assai
Var. XXIV. Fughetta Andante
Var. XXV. Allegro
Var. XXVI. Allegro
Var. XXVII. Vivace
Var. XXVIII. Allegro
Var. XXIX. Adagio ma non troppo
Var. XXX. Andante, sempre cantabile
Var. XXXI. Largo, molto espressivo
Var. XXXII. Fuga Allegro - Poco adagio
Var. XXXIII. Tempo di Menuetto moderato

Audio Sample: 

Var. I. Alla Marcia maestoso
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by  Nikolai Demidenko

Performance History

Teatro Biondo, Palermo, Italy
October 22, 1998

Premiere performance
Additional performances on October 23-25, 1998

Cité de la Musique, Paris, France
June 5, 1999

Additional performances on June 6 & 8, 1999

Barbican Centre, London, United Kingdom
June 18, 1999

Additional performance on June 19, 1999

September 16, 1999
September 17, 1999

Additional performance on September 18, 1999