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The Variations of Glenn Gould
Pianist Glenn Gould  
Canadian pianist Glenn Gould became legendary for his interpretation of Bach's Goldberg Variations, making a classical hit out of the previously obscure work.

Critic Tim Page on Glenn Gould

Listen to Part 1 on bringing the Goldbergs to the fore

Listen to Part 2 on comparing the 1955 and the 1981 recordings

Listen to Part 3 on Gould's eccentricities

At the time of Gould's American debut in 1955, the "Goldbergs" were mainly known only among baroque musicologists. Nevertheless, rather than playing the standard fare of Beethoven or Brahms, on January 2, 1955, the 22-year-old Gould played a complete performance of the Goldbergs at a concert in Washington, DC, so launching his celebrated career.

A year later, Columbia Masterworks released Gould's debut recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. In 1981, Gould recorded them again in a radically different interpretation before his death by a stroke in 1982. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Gould's birth, Sony Classical has remastered and released both recordings along with critic Tim Page's 1982 interview with Gould.

[Gould] sort of brought Bach outdoors... He suddenly made it clear all the real glories and beauties of Bach. He was not being at all pedantic; he was just taking this beautiful music and running wild with it. -- Tim Page, music critic

Glenn Gould:
A State of Wonder

The Complete Goldberg Variations 1955 & 1981 (Sony Classical/Legacy S3K 97703)
from 1955


Variation 1
from 1981


Variation 1

Related Links

Weekend Edition Saturday interview with Tim Page on Glenn Gould

The PT 50: Critic Ted Libbey picks Murray Perahia's Goldberg Variations for the essential CD collection (#27)

Glenn Gould: Official Web Site