J. S. Bach’s legacy

Johann Sebastian Bach

Today is the anniversary of J. S. Bach’s death. On July 28th, 1750 Johann Sebastian Bach died, and his musical legacy changed all of music forever. In my view, all musical compositions that followed in the succeeding 261 years were affected in some way by Bach’s innovations. As an example, to this day, composers are creating “Preludes and Fugues”; and in many cases these are interesting and enjoyable. The “originals” of these come from J. S. Bach…

I honor Bach today, for his originality, his contributions, his legacy, and the many hours of joy, introspection, and wisdom he brought to all people via his music. It is fitting that I remember Bach today via one of his legendary interpreters! That person’s name is Glenn Gould.

Glenn Gould’s recording debut in 1955 of Bach’s Goldberg Variations created a major musical event. Gould’s amazing technical skill, startling clarity, and rhythmic interpretation, combined with his eccentricities– humming, sometimes very fast tempi–made him an instantly legendary pianist and presented Bach’s music in a whole new way. Gould’s final recording, 26 years later, was also of the Goldberg variations. This second recorded interpretation is more relaxed, sometimes much slower, and more inward looking.

Both performances are historic and very special, each in its own way, and this set of three CD’s is entertaining, a joy to hear, and wonderful to own, even though quite “old” now.

On this CD are the following:

  • Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988, 1955
  • Goldberg Variations, for keyboard (Clavier-Übung IV), BWV 988, 1981
  • Glenn Gould discusses his performances of the Goldberg Variations with Tim Page (Interview)
  • Studio Outtakes from the 1955 Goldberg Variations Recording Session

Here is Glenn Gould in Bach – Goldberg Variations: The “Aria” alone, on which the rest of the composition is based:


Here is the same music, but this time it includes Variations 1-7:


And finally, here are Variations 12 – 19, together with some neat still photographs from LIFE magazine:


Tags: J. S. Bach Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *