Learn Mozart Variations by Fernando Sor (Op.9)

Learn Mozart Variations by Fernando Sor (Op.9)

Learn the beautiful Learn Mozart Variations by Fernando Sor (Op.9) in this new lesson from us at CGRocks, with TAB, and video walk through of each section, and variation, you will pick up and play this piece in no time at All. Grab your guitar and dive into a little #6stringinspiration today.

Mozart Variations by Fernando Sor (Op.9)

Mozart variations by Fernando sor guitar lesson introduction

This piece was probably conceived in London by Sor, however he had already heard the melody well and truly before this from Mozart’s smash hit Opera of the day, The magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) K. 620. This opera, premiered on 30 September 1791 in Vienna. A later work by Mozart, who died within 2 months of this live performance. It is based on Singspiel, words are spoken and sung, a very popular form of the day. Fernando Sor was in London when the Opera hit the stage in 1819. Check out this well written article from Serenade Magazine, with extra musical videos.

Das Klinget so Herrlich – Snippet

The inspiration for this set of variations was the short aria, Das klinget so herrlich, played on a glockenspiel as Pappageno tries to woo an angry mob away from kidnapping his friend. It is a very small moment in the opera, but the melody is typically Mozart, sweet and all the right notes. Sor took liberties for sure, and turned this very simple melody into a beautiful, and very flashy, set of musical variations on the guitar; which are still enjoyed today over 200 years later. Sor dedicated it to his brother Carlos. Wikipedia has a great short article on this – link here.

Variations and Structure

Introduction & Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Op. 9, to give it the full title, was published in London in 1821. This is important as the Paris edition has different notes, and one less variation. So London is probably the professional version Sor played, while Paris was for his lesser skilled patrons. Each variation, apart from the introduction & ending, are in an A/B format, with repeats. This follows Mozart’s original idea’s structure. The work has the following structure:

  • Introduction – E minor
  • Variation 1 – E major (Trumpet texture)
  • Variation 2 – E major (Strings)
  • Variation 3 – E minor (Orchestral)
  • Variation 4 – E major (Woodwind)
  • Variation 5 – E major (Strings & Trumpets)
  • Variation 6 – E major (Orchestral ending)

The added information above is my guess as to what Sor was trying to achieve with the notes. Please remember the music that these variations are based on is light-hearted, a very funny moment in the opera. So this should inform your interpretation of these variations; variation 4 especially. Those outside notes are there for a reason – comedy.

Learn Mozart Variations – Introduction

Mozart variations by Fernando sor guitar lesson introduction

Lesson one deals with that fantastic opening section to these variations in the parallel minor. (A clever arrangement trick with the keys.) In it, we hear the melody ever so slightly, along with some hints of its operatic setting, the Glockenspiel, in the harmonics. It has the hallmarks of a classical guitar arrangement of the 19th century. Chordal opening, triplets with a melody, bass & accompaniment. Into a very clever harmonic quote of the Opera, before ending on the dominant, B7. Ready to launch us into the very major first variation.

Learn Mozart Variations – Variation 1

fernado sor op. 9 mozart variation 1 guitar lesson

Variation 1 kicks off with slurs, on the 2nd string, with a melody above them. Today this is not an unusual texture for modern classical guitar, but I suspect in the 19th century it wasn’t that common. Sor utilizes thirds to harmonise the melody, opening the intervals out at the end of each section. The trick here will be to keep the melody alive, above these slurs. So pull your left hand finger up slightly to execute the pull-offs, clearing string one. The tricky bits here will be the cadences in the B section, with its diminished chord on the repeat. 

Mozart Variations – Variation 2

Slurs, chord, scales, this variation has it all. You will need to practice being fast with your left-hand fingers as they use the melody structure to shoot up, and down, the first string. The video above has alternative fingering for the scales fragments, so find your best fingering choices. The ability to change between the chords and slurs always takes a little time, so practice the music on slow, and the shift at tempo.

Learn Mozart Variations (Op.9) – Variation 3

Welcome to the minor variation of the Fernando Sor’s Op. 9. This is just straight ahead classical guitar texture, Chords and melody, being picked out by your right hand. The key to getting this variation feeling good is – expression. Be as expressive as you like, feeling the Mozart melody being tuned down into the minor key.

Learn Mozart Variations – Variation 4

It is pure orchestra texture here in this variation. Using a similar texture as the variation before, melody and chords, Sor weaves around Mozart’s melody with arpeggios and chromatics. This is a fun variation which is surprisingly modern in its approach to the fretboard. Sor utilizes higher notes with open strings to fill out the harmony and to get around the fretboard. This will take getting used to in the left-hand, some of those chords are a tad uncomfortable, so practice them in isolation.

Learn Mozart Variations (Op.9)- Variation 5

‘I feel a need. A need for speed!’

Yes, I will try and shoe horn movie references as and when I can. That one is more than apt for this fast variation. The right-hand is doing all the work here. The left-hand will need to move accurately across the fretboard, use your eyes to laser ahead into each position. See the video for more. Counting will take some time to get right, use a metronome on quavers to really nail those changes.

Learn Mozart Variations (Op.9) – Ending

This variation, as befitting the end, has everything in it. It starts with slurs on the 2nd string, as you play the melody on the first. Watch your left-hand clearance, you can’t perform pull-offs correctly. It is a pull-up motion. Practice that in isolation.

This then moves into some basic right-hand patterns from this era, arpeggios and melody at the fore here. Watching those big arpeggios at the end. The left-hand stretching ability will need to be fluid here too, as the static chords are quite a stretch on a modern classical guitar. Take it slow, and really you should be practicing stretches every day, if not, take this as a sign to start.

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