Goldberg Variations

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The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, is a work for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations.

Quotes[edit]

  • Clavier Ubung / bestehend / in einer ARIA / mit verschiedenen Verænderungen / vors Clavicimbal / mit 2 Manualen. / Denen Liebhabern zur Gemüths- / Ergetzung verfertiget von / Johann Sebastian Bach / Königl. Pohl. u. Churfl. Sæchs. Hoff- / Compositeur, Capellmeister, u. Directore / Chori Musici in Leipzig. / Nürnberg in Verlegung / Balthasar Schmids
    • Keyboard exercise, consisting of an ARIA with diverse variations for harpsichord with two manuals. Composed for connoisseurs, for the refreshment of their spirits, by Johann Sebastian Bach, composer for the royal court of Poland and the Electoral court of Saxony, Kapellmeister and Director of Choral Music in Leipzig. Nuremberg, Balthasar Schmid, publisher.
Bach-goldberg-aria.png

Quotes about Goldberg Variations[edit]

  • In fact, the Goldberg Variations have caused me more misery than any other piece of music in history, with the exception of the Tchaikovsky Trio (for totally different reasons). How many hours have I spent backstage fretting, knowing that there will be several insufferable know-it-alls in the audience, with their 700 recordings and deeply considered opinions? How many hours have I spent practising those passages where the two hands climb over each other, then turn around (as if revisiting the site of an accident) and head for each other again?
    • Jeremy Denk, "Bach's Goldberg Variations caused me misery – but I still can't get enough", The Guardian (7 November 2013)
  • On top of their difficulty, the Goldbergs are terrifyingly clean. The work clings mostly to the purity of G major, and its materials are so self-evident.
    • Jeremy Denk, "Bach's Goldberg Variations caused me misery – but I still can't get enough", The Guardian (7 November 2013)
  • The Goldbergs, insular and obsessed, have all the failings of classical music in general. The piece is a text reflecting on itself, satisfied in its own world, suggesting that everything you would ever want to know is contained within. The variations (by definition music about music) are subject to countless insider discussions in the outer world, to comparisons of recordings like heavyweight bouts, to that annoying word "definitive". Despite this, Bach's smile wins through. The piece is a lesson in many things, but primarily in wonder: the way that the tragic variations fuse seamlessly into the breathlessly comic, the way that simple scales become energy, joy, enthusiasm, the celebration of the most fundamental elements of music. This is the kind of beatific happiness that Beethoven eventually tried to attain, after the heroic happiness of the middle period. The last movements of Beethoven's Op 109 and Op 111 invoke the Goldbergs, and represent a joy beyond achievement.
    • Jeremy Denk, "Bach's Goldberg Variations caused me misery – but I still can't get enough", The Guardian (7 November 2013)

External links[edit]

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