Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classical Music - Sunday 24 May 2015, 9pm

Tonight Catherine Bott tackles ‘themes’ and the variations that have been woven from them.

The use of the theme and variations format is something that composers have loved throughout the centuries, giving them the chance to conjure something magical from a tune that may initially be quite simple.

Tonight there’s a chance to hear some of those timeless Variations on an Original Theme, best known as the 'Enigma Variations' by Elgar (pictured), as the original theme is never stated. 

Catherine also features a set of variations around God Save the King written by Beethoven, as well as Schubert’s tinkering with his own song The Wanderer, as the starting point for a superb piano fantasy.

The Variations on an Elizabethan Theme, written to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, saw six major British composers each offering a variation on Sellinger’s Round. Tonight we'll hear Benjamin Britten and William Walton’s offerings. 

The show concludes with movie maestro John Williams spinning some dazzling variations out of everybody's favourite celebratory tune, Happy Birthday to You.