Las meninas
Variations transformelles sur les Kinderszenen de Robert Schumann

John Rea
John Rea
Composition Date: 1991
Revision Date: 1991
Duration: 00:30:00
Genre: Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piano
Programme Note:
Twenty-one transformal variations (in thirteen movements) on the “Scenes from Childhood” by Robert Schumann.

One of the most remarkable accomplishments in the history of painting is the seventeenth century masterpiece by Velázquez entitled, Las Meninas, a compelling portrayal of the artist himself in the act of painting Philip IV and his wife, Mariana of Austria who, surprisingly, can only be seen in the reflection of a mirror placed at the back of the room that furnishes the setting for the scene: an impromptu gathering of ‘lesser royals’ (las meninas), that is, the Infanta Margarita and the various ‘children-in-waiting’ of the royal family, who are looking at either the King and Queen being painted, or glancing at someone who has just happened upon the entire scene.

Because of its multileveled content and structure, this work has charmed a variety of commentators and visual artists into comprehending, reading and interpreting its meanings, from Foucault to Dali, for example, to Picasso who, between August and December 1957, painted no less than 44 variations on it in his own inimitable final style.

In my own variations on the Scenes from Childhood, Robert Schumann’s masterful depiction of the preoccupations and games of little (‘lesser’) people, the final scene of which contains the Schumann self-portrait/self-quotation, I have tried at once to recreate the feeling that, as Velázquez’ teacher used to say, “the image must go beyond its frame”, and to offer changing points of view, the perspectives of numerous observers who happen upon the scenes: inevitable reinterpretations of the elements that make up the substance of evanescent perceptions.

Las Meninas was commissioned by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (Montreal) at the request of pianist Yvar Mikhashoff, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. The work was given its premiere by Yvar Mikhashoff on April 14, 1991.


Premiere Information:
14 avril 1991, Théâtre Paul-Desmarais, Centre canadien d’architecture, Montréal, QC; Yvar Mikhashoff, piano.


  • Call Number:
  • MI 2110 R281me
  • Genre:
  • Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • August 20, 1992
  • Type:
  • Print-music, published
  • Physical Description:
  • 52 p. de notation musicale ; 31 cm.
    52 Pages
    Height: 32 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Pour piano.
    En 12 mouvements: 1. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen -- 2. Kuriose Geschichte -- 3. Hasche-Mann -- 4. Bittendes Kind -- 5. Glückes genug -- 6. Wichtige Begebenheit -- 7. Träumerei -- 8. Am kamin -- 9. Ritter vom Steckenpferd -- 10. Fast zu erst -- 11. Fürchtenmachen -- 12.L’enfant s’endort -- 13. Le poète parle.
    Inspiré Las Meninas, du peintre Diego Velazquez.

    Additional People:
    Robert Schumann
    Diego Velasquez
    Contemporary Showcase
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Available Products for this piece:

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PalimpsestPalimpsestCD $20.98
Canadian Compositions for Young PianistsCanadian Compositions for Young PianistsCD $70.00Out of stock
Scènes D'enfanceScènes D'enfanceCD $12.00
Worlds ApartWorlds ApartCD $19.98
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Copies of this work are available for loan from: Montréal, Vancouver