Suite No. 5 in E major is the most well-known of the sixteen harpsichord suites left by Händel, himself a keyboard virtuoso. Its fame comes from the suite’s theme and variations final movement, known as, “The Harmonious Blacksmith.”
Brahms was fascinated by the variation genre and used it widely. His Variations on a Theme of Händel, Op. 24 are considered to be his greatest achievement in the genre, with its rigorous construction and creativity of imagination.
Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13 conceal behind their title a theme and its twelve variations. A work of masterly architecture and orchestral sonorities, and of extreme virtuosity, it plays out as a dramatic crescendo, from an initial funeral march to a victorious march.