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Theme and Variations

Theme and Variations

If you think the main themes from Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Henry Purcell’s Rondeau from Abdelazer Suite are similar, you’re right. Purcell, a Baroque composer, wrote incidental music in 1695 to accompany performances of the play by Aphra Behn, Abdelazer, also known as The Moor’s Revenge. The second movement of the 10-movement suite is one of Purcell’s most recognizable tunes and was the inspiration for Britten’s work.

Originally commissioned for the 1945 film documentary, Instruments of the Orchestra, Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is one of the composer’s best known works. The main theme—the theme borrowed from Purcell’s Rondeau from Abdelazer Suite—is introduced by the entire orchestra followed by variations featuring different sections of the orchestra.

Britten created two versions of The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – one with narration and one without. While the piece is more often recorded without narration, Henry Fogel will join the Evanston Symphony Orchestra’s performance of the work to narrate the piece for us at the March 18 concert.

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten


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Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the March concert program in depth.

The Merion
Friday, March 16 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.