Variations on a Theme by Franz Joseph Haydn for woodwind quintet and tape was completed in 1976 under a commission from the Dorian Woodwind Quintet to whom the work is gratefully dedicated.
In this composition the taped portion plays an orchestral role to the winds' solo role. At times the pre-recorded material is accompaniment and articulation only, at times it is an equal partner to the winds, and at other times it is completely in the foreground. Each of the six variations is characterized by a different distribution of these roles.
The recorded material is constructed exclusively from tape manipulations performed upon a recording, made by the Dorian Quintet, of the 'St. Anthony Chorale' from Haydn's Divertimento No. 1. This central musical source was first subdivided into thematic and motivic units of various sizes. These units were then subjected to a wide variety of musique concrète procedures thereby creating new sounds, shapes and musical gestures which are directly related to the original material - allowing us, in effect, to discover a new sonic world which exists within the source composition.
In turn, the timbral and motivic unity of the material which is recorded on the tape and that which is perfomed by the soloists (an elaboration of the same Divertimento) permits a cohesive dialogue between two quite different yet parallel worlds.