The awe the Goldberg inspires in musicians. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page.
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Bach, the Goldberg Variations
Synopsis Bach's spectacular Goldberg Variations represent a high point in the repertory of keyboard music, particularly for the harpsichord. This guide to what was at the time the largest and most carefully conceived single work of keyboard music will appeal to students, performers and listeners. Excerpt When in the American harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick prefaced hisplaying edition of the Goldberg Variations with a quote from Sir Thomas Browne's Religio medici of — 'there is something in it of Divinity more than the eare discovers' — he was not meaning to use it as an example of English aesthetics of the late Renaissance and platonic ideals of soundless music.
As harpsichord replicas were built and recording technology improved, the bold sound "changed dramatically," says Kenyon Ibid. Kenyon welcomes using the piano instead of the harpsichord for Bach's keyboard works since now "all manner of sonorities are acceptable," he says Ibid. Keyboard Historical Reception The historical reception of Bach's keyboard music reveals that the WTC Book 1 was wcirculated after Bach's death and became the foremost study by various composers such as the teenage Beethoven, Carl Zcerny, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, and many others, well into the 19th century.
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At that time, individual works were played often, notably the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue , the Italian Concerto , and the French Overture but the Goldberg Variations were little known until the 20th entry when they became a performing and recording phenomenon. In the 20th century, pianists, musicologists, and conservatories have engaged in in-depth analyses and studies of such topics as its precursors, well-tempered tuning, text, style, interpretation, genesis, sources, versions, and editions. The only early documentation is found in an essay, "Comparison between Handel and Bach," published in Berlin in Bach Dok II , and probably authored by Emanuel Bach, says the late Peter Williams in his monograph of the work.
The music was rarely performed in the 19th century since it "did not accord with current tastes," he suggests Ibid. The hour-long plus study of 30 variations did not return to the original sarabande-style aria with "some flamboyant improvisation," citing E.
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A Hoffmann's dismissal, Williams observes. Pianists ignored the music possibly "because its keyboard figuration appeared more dated than would the counterpoint of the kind found in the Well-tempered Clavier ," says Williams Ibid. By however, the organological expert A. Hipkins was 'reviving' it, playing some of the variations on the harpsichord to the Royal Musical Association. The 20th century saw the acceptance of the Goldberg Variations and its phenomenal success in recital and then on recordings.
Trueck's experiences with Bach's music, which eventually led to her teaching at Juilliard, is recounted in Elie p. Under the heading of "Some modern theories" regarding the understanding of the Goldberg Variations , Peter Williams finds Ibid. Williams suggests that this may be because "the originality of its strategies and tactics — its organization and its bar-by-bar composition — is so pronounced" that scholars turn to extra-musical concerns that are allegorical, symbolic, cognitive, mechanistic, semiotic, or sociological.
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Related Bach: The Goldberg Variations (Cambridge Music Handbooks) 2001
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