Sakura-Variationen (Sakura Variations) is a 2000 trio composition scored for saxophone, piano, and percussion by Helmut Lachenmann. It is written in the form of variations on a Japanese folk song about the cherry blossom called "Sakura Sakura". It was published by Breitkopf & Härtel.[1] In 2008, Lachenmann expanded the work to Sakura mit Berliner Luft.

Trio by Helmut Lachenmann
The composer in 2017
Year2000 (2000)
Based onSakura Sakura
Performed18 February 2001 (2001-02-18): Cologne
Published2000 (2000)
Duration6 min
  • saxophone
  • piano
  • percussion


Lachenmann composed the work for a concert for children at the Kölner Philharmonie.[2] He based the composition on a traditional Japanese folk song about the cherry blossom, "Sakura Sakura", and wrote variations for saxophone, piano and percussion.[1]

The composer writes that he takes children seriously, and therefore composed a piece that is cheerful and serious.[1] He comments further:

The exotic inflections of the sadly cheerful Japanese folk and children's song which conjures up the connection of pure beauty and inevitable transitoriness in the symbol of the cherry blossoms, is embedded into the functional-harmonic practice of the European musical tradition.[1]

Towards the end, the music becomes "pseudo-dramatic", with piano clusters, and "an almost ecstatic improvisation" of the saxophone.[1]

The trio was premiered by the Trio Accanto in Cologne on 18 February 2001. The duration is given as 6 minutes. It was published by Breitkopf & Härtel.[1]

In a 2008 version, Sakura mit Berliner Luft, Lachenmann also quoted the song "Berliner Luft [de]"[2] which Paul Lincke had composed, originally for an operetta.[3] Lincke's heirs protested because of copyright concerns.[2] The 2008 version was performed in Linz on 7 May 2009 as part of the Festival 4020, again by the Trio Accanto.[4]

Sakura Variationen was played by Trio Accanto (at that time Marcus Weiss (saxophone), Yukiko Sugawara (piano), and Christian Dierstein (percussion)) on 16 August 2010 at the Rheingau Musik Festival, when the 80th birthday of Walter Fink was celebrated by chamber music of living composers, including Toshio Hosokawa, Volker David Kirchner, Wolfgang Rihm, and Jörg Widmann.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Helmut Lachenmann (*1935) / Sakura-Variationen / Variations on a Japanese Folk Song [sax,perc,pno] 2000 Duration: 6'". Breitkopf & Härtel. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Montagskonzert Ensemble Musikfabrik" (in German). 17 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  3. ^ Berliner Luft (Lincke, Paul): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  4. ^ "Festival 4020 / Song" (PDF) (in German). 2009. p. 5. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  5. ^ Hauff, Andreas (8 September 2010). "Ehrungen und Raritäten. Die Endphase beim Rheingau-Musik-Festival". Neue Musikzeitung. Retrieved 15 April 2018.