Variations on “Dona Nobis Pacem”
Premiere: Mary Jo Gothmann, Excelsior, Minn., 2016
Published by ECS
The singing of Dona Nobis Pacem is an annual holiday tradition at the Eastman School of Music. Students, faculty, and alumni gather in the Main Hall at the end of fall semester to hear music inspired by the holiday season, concluding with the traditional round as a send-off. No one knows who wrote this little gem, but it is commonly assumed to be from the eighteenth century. I wrote the Variations on Dona nobis pacem to play in a program of music in classical style at a gathering of University of Rochester alumni in November of 2016. In creating a solo piano piece from vocal material, I introduce the tune alone, then its bass, which is similar to that of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Nine variations and a finale follow in a variety of styles that recall Classical and Romantic-period composers.