Eugene Goossens’ Jubilee Variations

Notes by Steve V. Sinclair

This obscure piece is mostly known today, if at all, as the inspiration for Aaron Copland’s “Jubilee Variation,” also known as “Variation on a Theme by Eugene Goossens.” The work was written for the 50th anniversary of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where Goossens was conductor. He wrote the theme and finale himself, and commissioned ten American composers to contribute variations. Goossens himself was later plagued by a major public scandal involving the occult and erotica. As a result, his reputation was ruined and he was forced to return to his native England in disgrace. Thus, his compositions never achieved great recognition, but he nonetheless inspired many composers after him, including Copland.