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Bach: Goldberg Variations in G Major

Piano Sheet Music to Download and Print or to View in Mobile Devices

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.

Members who like this piece have also downloaded:

Posts in the piano forum about this piece by :

question Beethoven Sonata Op 49 no 2 /Bach Goldberg Aria
January 02, 2004, 06:39:14 PM by lani

My daughter is 11 and has been playing for five years.  She would like to play a sonata (she has played quite a few sonatinas-Clementi, Beethoven) and wants to play something longer and more challenging.  Has completed Moart's Turkish Rondo, Chopin Waltzes (A and B minor), Bach Preludes 1 and 23 from WTC, Beethoven Sonatina G, CPE Bach Solfeggio and Czerny Velocity pieces.  Any suggestions or comments re: difficulty/complexity on this piece?  Another student her age recently completed working on this.  Her instructor is open to her learning it.  Her instructor considers her at high intermediate entering advanced level.  Also, she would like to begin competing and is being asked to do the two preludes above for the local Jr. Bach Festival.  This is her first competition.  Will these pieces be appropriate for competition?  She has been practicing them for almost 5 months and is getting almost bored with them-competition is in one month, so there is no time really for her to learn a new Bach piece.  We could wait until next year, so perhaps you all could suggest some other pieces for her to select for next year's competition that might be more challenging. She is very picky about the pieces she enjoys playing but liked these two preludes the best from the WTC.  She loves the aria from the Goldberg Variations-would that be too difficult ?  Thanks!

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!

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

Any tips? (especially on the ornamentation etc).

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

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

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


comments welcome.


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 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

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 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.

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