Bach: The Goldberg Variations

Bach: The Goldberg Variations

3.77 (9 ratings by Goodreads)
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Many listeners and players are fascinated by Bach's Goldberg Variations. In this wideranging and searching study, Professor Williams, one of the leading Bach scholars of our time, helps them probe its depths and understand its uniqueness. He considers the work's historical origins, especially in relation to all Bach's Clavierubung volumes and late keyboard works, its musical agenda and its formal shape, and discusses significant performance issues. In the course of the book he poses a number of key questions. Why should such a work be written? Does the work have both a conceptual and a perceptual shape? What other music is likely to have influenced the Goldberg and to what extent is it trying to be encyclopedic? What is the canonic vocabulary? How have contemporaries or musicians from Beethoven to the present day seen this work and, above all, how has its mysterious beauty been created?
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Product details

  • Paperback | 120 pages
  • 140 x 212 x 14mm | 181.44g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2 b/w illus. 23 music examples
  • 0521001935
  • 9780521001939
  • 634,839

Review quote

Peter Williams manages to pack in an extraordinary amount of information about the work's background, compositional techniques and structures, and reception history. His consideration of the work's relationships to a large amount of other music is particularly remarkable. The writing style is fresh and engaging and the material presented clearly and concisely. We can safely say that Williams's book will be the fundamental work on its subject for years to come.' Eighteenth-Century Music
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Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Background and genesis; 2. Overall shape; 3. The movements; 4. Questions of reception; Appendix: the intended harpsichord.
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About Peter Williams

Peter Williams (1937-2016) was an internationally renowned Bach scholar and performer. He held the first Chair in Performance Practice in Britain at the University of Edinburgh, where he was Director of the Russell Collection of Harpsichords and latterly Dean of Music. He was also the first Arts and Sciences Distinguished Chair at Duke University, North Carolina. He was the author of many books, including The Organ Music of J. S. Bach (3 volumes, Cambridge, 1981-1984), Bach, Handel, Scarlatti 1685-1985 (Cambridge, 1985), The Life of Bach (Cambridge, 2003) and J. S. Bach: A Life in Music (Cambridge, 2007).
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Rating details

9 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 22% (2)
4 33% (3)
3 44% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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