Hamburger Concerto is the fourth studio album by the progressive rock band Focus. Released in 1974, it peaked at #20 on the
charts. The title track is based on Variations on a Theme by Haydn
by Johannes Brahms. UK
Focus is a Dutch rock band which was founded by classically trained organist/flutist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the instrumental pieces "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia". The band broke up in 1978, but reformed in 2002 and has been recording and touring since.
They have found also renewed fame due to the use of "Hocus Pocus" by guitarist Gary Hoey on his 1993 album Animal Instinct, and as the theme for the Nike 2010 World Cup commercial, Write The Future, directed by the Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The Variations on a Theme
The Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, (German: Variationen über ein Thema von Jos. Haydn), now also called the Saint Anthony Variations, is a work in the form of a theme and variations, composed by Johannes Brahms (German composer, born May 7, 1833, Hamburg died April 3, 1897, Vienna, Austria-Hungary) in the summer of 1873 at Tutzing in Bavaria. It consists of a theme in B-flat major based on a "Chorale St Antoni", eight variations, and a finale. The work was published in two versions: for two pianos, written first but designated Op. 56b; and for orchestra, designated Op. 56a.
The orchestral version is better known and much more often heard than the two-piano version. It is often said to be the first independent set of variations for orchestra in the history of music, although there is at least one earlier piece in the same form, Antonio Salieri's Twenty-six Variations on 'La folia di Spagna' written in 1815.
Brahms's orchestral variations are scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns (2 in E flat, 2 in B flat), 2 trumpets, timpani, triangle, and the normal string section of first and second violins, violas, cellos and double basses. The piece usually takes about 18 minutes to perform.
Brahms composed the work on a theme entitled "Chorale Saint Antoni" found in a wind ensemble composition. At the time Brahms discovered it, the wind ensemble piece carried an attribution to the composer Joseph Haydn. Brahms's titled his own composition accordingly, crediting Haydn for the theme. But publishers in the early nineteenth century often attached the names of famous composers to works by unknown or lesser known composers in order to move inventory. Subsequent research has shown that the wind piece Brahms used as a source does not fit Haydn's style. Today the wind ensemble piece remains without attribution.
The first performance of the orchestral version was given on 2 November 1873 by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Brahms's baton.