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Variations on "Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End"

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Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (trans. Ramon Ricker)

The title of this work translates from the German as My young life has ended. It bears the designation SwWV 324.

General Info

Year: c. 1693 / 1975 / 2021
Duration: c. 7:50
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Organ
Current Publisher: Alry Publications (2021)
Former Publisher: G. Schirmer (1975) - Out of Print.
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $75.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


1. Theme – 1:00
2. Variation I – 00:50
3. Variation II – 00:50
4. Variation III – 1:10
5. Variation IV – 1:30
6. Variation V – 1:05
7. Variation VI – 1:20


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Alto Flute
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Chimes
  • Glockenspiel
  • Vibraphone


Errata has been corrected for the 2021 edition, published by Alry Publications.

In Score (1975 edition):

  • Trumpet I, m.55: Key signature is missing (notes are not affected).

In Parts (1975 edition):

  • Vibraphone, m.81: Sharp is missing on the lower C. Both notes should be C-sharp.

In Score and Parts:

  • Piccolo, m. 103: First 16th note should be F.
  • Flute, m. 102: Last note of measure should be D.
  • Oboe, m. 102: Last note of measure should be D.
  • Clarinet I, m. 110: Beat 3 downbeat should be F-sharp; beat 4 downbeat should be B.
  • Clarinet II-III, m. 98: Downbeat of 3 should be C-natural.
  • Clarinet III, m. 102: Last note of measure should be C-sharp.
  • Bass Clarinet, m. 17: Should be a half note E on beats 3 and 4.
  • Bass Clarinet, m. 102: Last note of measure should be C-sharp.

Program Notes

The beauty of this set of madrigal variations defies time. Ramon Ricker’s sensitive setting for wind ensemble proves that Sweelinck’s 400-year-old masterpiece need not be restricted to performance by any one medium. The brief and plaintive opening theme, played by soprano saxophone, vibraphone, and unison horns, is followed by six variations, all different in design and instrumentation. The music challenges the listener to follow the variations, and the performers to play with sensitivity, control, and balance.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

The composer’s Variations on Mein junges Leben hat ein End (My young life has ended) was originally composed for organ. The specific date of composition is unknown and the melody is likely of German origin, as it first appears in several printed collections by German composers in the early 1600s. Following a simple presentation of the theme, six variations follow that explore the motivic and harmonic possibilities of the original material.

The arrangement adds an array of color made possible by modern instruments while remaining faithful to the original composition. Ramon Ricker, who retired from the faculty of the Eastman School of Music following 40 years of service, penned this transcription in 1975. It is one of many arrangements, among several compositions, articles and books, written by this outstanding scholar and artist.

- Program Note from Temple University Wind Symphony concert program, 27 April 2018

Due to Calvinist church practice prohibiting organ use during the service, organists were employed to perform variations on church hymns before and after the service to assist the congregation in their familiarization of the hymns. Sweelinck developed and applied his variation skills to many melodies in his compositions; however, his variation on the tune Mein Junges Leben hat ein End became his most successful composition. This melancholy, secular melody originated in Germany and likely came to Sweelinck through a student from that country. The lyrics usually associated with the tune are:

My young life is at an end, as are also my joy and suffering;
Let my poor soul leave my body quickly.
My life can no longer stand (proudly with strength),
it is weak and must pass away
and along with all my suffering.

- Program Note from Teaching Music through Performance in Band


State Ratings

  • Michigan: Senior High AA


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Mason St. Pierre, conductor) - 12 December 2022
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Robblee, conductor) - 24 September 2022
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (JoAnn Wieszczyk, conductor) - 22 October 2021
  • Calvin University (Grand Rapids, Mich.) Wind Ensemble (Tiffany Engle, conductor) - 12 March 2021
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnochan, conductor) - 22 November 2020
  • Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Ensemble (Mark Scatterday, conductor) – 1 April 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Alex Baczewski, conductor) – 26 March 2019
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 27 April 2018
  • Florida International University (Miami) Wind Ensemble (Brenton F. Alston, conductor) – 18 April 2018
  • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Mallory Thompson, conductor) – 23 February 2018
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 20 November 2017
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor) – 16 November 2017
  • University of British Columbia (Vancouver) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Robert Taylor, conductor) – 6 October 2017
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Stephen W. Pratt, conductor) – 18 October 2016
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory Wind Symphony (Steven D. Davis, conductor) – 15 March 2016
  • University of Maryland Wind Orchestra (Michael Votta, conductor) – 6 November 2015
  • Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) Symphonic Winds (Steven Dennis Bodner, conductor) – 23 March 2006 (CBDNA 2006 Eastern Division Conference, Montclair, N.J.)

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Brown, Andrea E. "Variations on "Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End"." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 860-867. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.
  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Sweelinck, Jan Pieterszoon." Accessed 28 May 2015
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 576
  • Sweelinck, J.; Ricker, R. (1975). Variations on "Mein Junges Leben Hat Ein End" = My Young Life has Ended [score]. G. Schirmer: New York.