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Bach: Goldberg Variations in G Major

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Johann Sebastian Bach :
Goldberg Variations
Goldberg Variations   in G Major by Bach piano sheet music
Key: G Major Year: 1741
Level: 8+ Period: Baroque
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext (1310 kB)
piano sheet music Piano score: Scanned score (6431 kB)

The relentlessly intricate architecture of the Goldberg Variations still engage scholars after hundreds of years, while the soothing, noble poetry and formidable technical demands of the piece continue to captivate players and listeners.

A number of legendary performances of this monumental work have been recorded on piano as well as on harpsichord and organ - two of the most popular and highly regarded ones were recorded on the piano by Glenn Gould in 1955 and 1981.

Bach wrote the work with a two-manual harpsichord in mind, which makes the challenge for the pianist even greater – the many hand-crossings, possibly inspired by Scarlatti’s keyboard music, is much easier to perform on two manuals.

Johann Nicolaus Forkel wrote in his Bach biography (1802) that the Variations had been commissioned by the Russian Ambassador to Saxony Count Kaiserling, who suffered from insomnia. Goldberg was a young musician, who according to Forkel’s (probably spurious) version of events, was supposed to play from the Variations during the Count’s sleepless nights to cheer him up a little.

Rather than just varying the melody of the Aria, the thirty variations are built upon its bass line. Every third variation is a canon at increasing intervals, except the final, thirtieth variation, a so-called quodlibet, mixing a number of popular tunes - including one that goes "Cabbage and turnips have driven me away, had my mother cooked meat, I'd have opted to stay". After this the heavenly Aria with its elusive beauty returns to close the work.

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Posts in the piano forum about this piece by :

xx Goldberg variation 1 complete fingering.
May 22, 2011, 09:01:47 PM by mikejmck

anybody know the proper fingering for this piece?

xx Goldberg variations
May 21, 2011, 09:40:22 PM by sxsx

I recently started trying to play Bachs goldberg variations, and I am mostly interested in variations 1 and 3, but it is insanely hard for me.
I have just a little more than 1 year of piano lessons, and I am not having lessons right now.
Should I just continue trying or this is omsething only for more experienced players ?

xx Goldberg Variation: Two Keyboard Variations
May 18, 2011, 10:06:41 PM by aeryck

Does anyone have suggestions for a playable approach to these crossing hands variations in the Goldberg where notes are quickly (and seemingly impossibly) repeated?

xx Aria (Goldberg) and Nuages Gris
February 13, 2011, 07:31:10 PM by fred792k


I'm quite new to a piano, half a year so far.
My repertoire consists of

Of Foreign Lands and People
Chopin prelude 7
Chopin Largo E-flat major
Bach prelude C major
Moonlight Sonata mvt. 1.

The next pieces I'm looking at is Goldberg Variations "Aria", and Liszt's Nuages gris. I can play a minute of each of them so far, but am I good enough to finish them both?

xx Favorite Goldberg Variation?
August 07, 2010, 12:31:18 AM by extremelyfatchicken

what is your favorite variation in Bach's goldberg variations?

xx I'd love to to see someone's RH fingering for Goldberg Variation 6
May 02, 2010, 02:27:16 AM by dtmowns

Hello, I am having trouble with the RH part of the 2nd Canon, I would be eternally greatful if someone sent me their RH fingering for the first Half.


xx Ideas on fingering for the end of the first half of Goldberg Var 3 (RH)
January 17, 2010, 04:23:45 AM by dtmowns

Hello, I was wondering what different fingerings you guys used for the last Treble Clef Measure of the first Half of Var. 3 ; specifically the first B (under the tied D)


xx Help with Kirkpatrick edition of Goldberg Variations
January 02, 2010, 09:37:36 AM by dtmowns

Hello, I've noticed that in this edition, in his modified scores above the original text, sometimes he transposes and flips things to different clefs etc.... but I don't understand sometimes they are actually different notes!

For instance look at page 22 (Variation eight) Bar 20 and see if you can make sense if the alternate text above the original, the notes don't match!

Forgive my ignorance...as I am sure there is an explanation

xx Goldberg Variation no 1
June 10, 2009, 01:06:26 PM by beethoven_fan

Hi, everybody !

I'd like to know the grade (I know that grades are all subjective) for the first variation. I like it so much, so beautiful. I have looked at the score, it doesn't seem that hard. Is it harder than it looks ? I'd love to play it, but I don't want to mess it.

I'm not very adavanced. Here's what I have played by Bach (besides the Aria from the Goldberg and Prelude in C major that everyone plays) :

Inventions no 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, ,8 , 9, 10, 13, 14
Sinfonia no 15
Menuet from French Suite no. 2 in C minor
Menuet from French Suite no. 4 in Eb major
Gavotte from French Suite no. 5 in G major
Menuet from French Suite no. 6 in E major

I can play those very fine, I'm very comfortable with them.

I have tried about a year ago to play Prelude in C minor from WCT 1, but could not play it at tempo. That's all I have I played from the WTC. No fugue yet.

Is Variation no 1 around my level ? Or is it too advanced for me ?

xx goldberg variations no.21
December 15, 2008, 03:16:27 PM by ryanyee

i've recently recorded the 21st variation from the goldberg variations. i'd like to get everybody's comments on them. although it doesn't sound very colorful to me. thanks all. this is the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j81J1HE7pzs

xx VIDEO: Bach: Goldberg Variations #1
October 22, 2008, 10:11:50 PM by kard

So, this is it Smiley 
I've been recording my practices recently. I usually mess around and try and perform something every once in a while and this came out pretty decently (in my opinion...). And yes, I'm still cringing at the crossing hands flub, but, nothing's perfect :-/.

Critique please!! I would really appreciate it. It's only been recently that I've moved past technique problems for the most part to listening.

Recorder: Audio- Laptop Mic, Video- Generic webcam software.

exclamation Listening to piano works by Bach while studying maths
October 03, 2008, 04:07:44 AM by presto agitato

In your opinion which work by Bach could be a good option while i study maths.

English Suites, Partitas, Goldberg Variations??


xx Re: Top 5 Best Piano Songs of All Time
September 24, 2008, 12:37:03 AM by michel dvorsky

Bach - Goldberg Variations
Schubert - Wanderer Fantasie
Chopin - Ballade 4
Liszt - Sonata
Alkan - Festin D'Esope
Scriabin - Sonata 5

xx Variation Goldberg n°1...
May 19, 2008, 09:58:27 AM by babaz


Please watch (and ideally comment) this video :


It's a beginning but in high-definition (thanks to firewire !!!)

Thank you!

xx Goldberg variations, aria, no. 1,14,19,20,26
May 18, 2008, 01:06:30 PM by nick


comments welcome.


xx Goldberg variation no.1
November 03, 2007, 05:30:36 PM by kard

I just looked up the variations on youtube and realized that you cross your hands at the two bars just before the end of the first theme/section. (?) I had split up the fingering for the notes so I don't cross my hands (...im playing it allegretto). I didn't realize that the intention was to cross the hands so my question is, am i cheating and should i just relearn those bars?  I'm under the impression that it kinda doesn't matter but i wanted some opinion on this.

xx goldbergs
March 10, 2007, 02:19:37 PM by imbetter

I've been curious of this for along time. start voting

xx Goldberg Variations
August 17, 2006, 02:27:29 AM by cerulean

After listening to them like a million times on my nano the past 2 weeks, I've decided to begin studying this wonderful music.

My concern right now is which edition/book/etc i should buy. The pdf from piano street is nice to read while listening to the music, but not for learning - at least not for me! The sheet music archive has one, any comments on that?

any suggestions welcome. thanks a lot Smiley

xx Gouldberg Variations (better sound quality this time)
June 13, 2006, 10:36:45 AM by steveie986

In this post:


To come soon: II, V, X, XV, XXX

Recorded on a Yamaha grand

xx Goldberg Variations
May 20, 2006, 01:35:38 AM by da jake

Hi guys. I've worked on these pieces for a few months now. I think my ornamentation is pretty clean, but the rhythm could use a bit of work.

Tell me if I'm off to a good start?



xx Bach - Goldberg Variations I, IV, IX, X
April 30, 2006, 08:20:05 PM by steveie986

This is my first attempt at recording.

I'm a mostly self-taught pianist. I've had five years of fairly basic piano lessons and I've played by myself for five years.

I love listening to Glenn Gould so I try to sound like him. Please tell me if my attempt at imitating Gould's staccato fails terribly.

More recordings of the Goldberg to come in the future, I hope.

xx J. S. Bach - Goldberg Variations (Aria + Var 1 + Var 2)
December 15, 2005, 05:44:56 PM by gouldfischer

Hi everybody. This is my first post to the Audition Room.

I'm 29 and a late starter. I've only been studying since last July, so don't expect to hear any overwhelming exhibition of technique. The sound quality is also poor, I apologize for that. (I'll record it again with a better equipment, soon.)

I'd pretty much appreciate to hear from you guys about this.

I purposefully decided not to re-record anything to correct mistakes (these are all first take's) because I wanted you to be able to listen to my average play (not the best I can do, possibly, but probably not the worst, also - the worst was surely last Monday, during my first real audition, what the hell was that?!...)

Thank you very much!


xx Aria From The Goldberg Variations...
November 08, 2005, 12:10:09 PM by fuel925

Any tips? (especially on the ornamentation etc).

xx What do I program with the Goldberg Variations?
June 27, 2005, 08:36:49 AM by thalberg

I just played a recital that consisted of the Goldberg Variations and nothing else.  I felt that in preparing these for my first public performance, I shouldn't divide my attention (Or, to be more honest, I don't have the mental capacity to divide my attention)
.  But now I know them and I'm comfortable with them, and I think next time I play them (6 months from now) I'd like to add something else to the program.

But it's such a problem!  Do you give people more Bach?  If not, what else would complement such a monumental work? And do you play the Goldberg's first or last on the program?  How do you make sure the audience doesn't get worn out?

So far, the best thing I could come up with was to open with Goldbergs, then take a break, then play the Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor as a large encore.

Advice, please!

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