- Varvara piano
Johann Sebastian Bach Goldberg Variations BWV 988
There is, arguably, no such thing as Johann Sebastian Bach’s most famous composition. Most of them are genuinely brilliant, and to many of them more or less credible stories are attached. Whether it is religious pieces (passions, cantatas, Mass in B minor, Magnificat…) or instrumental ones (Kunst der Fuge, The Brandenburg Concertos, the orchestral suites, Das wohltemperierte Klavier…) there almost always is one to be heard. Arguably, the most famous legend connected to Bach’s work is the one surrounding the Goldberg Variations, one relayed (or made up) by the composer’s first monographer, Johann Nicolaus Forkel.
Forkel claimed that the piece had been commissioned by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, a great virtuoso employed by count Herman Karl von Keyserling, Russian ambassador to the court of Saxony. The Variations, reportedly, were supposed to alleviate the count’s insomnia. Most probably, the idea was not to make the ambassador fall asleep but to make his sleepless nights more pleasurable.
The piece, in typical Bach manner, is very cleverly structured: It opens and closes with the melodic, melancholic Aria. In between, we find thirty variations on it, divided into groups of three. Within the groups, the first part is usually meant for dancing, the second is virtuoso-focused, and the third is a canon.
Dominika Micał, “Ruch Muzyczny”