According to Bach’s first biography, the “Gold bergs” were written for one of the composer’s most talented pupils, who used them to entertain and soothe his insomniac master during bouts of sleeplessness.
Subsequent historians have had their doubts about the story’s authenticity, but the composer certainly intended his work as a diversion for listeners.
Upon its 1742 publication, Bach entitled it “Keyboard Practice, consisting of an Aria with Diverse Variations, for the Harpsichord with 2 Manuals. Composed for Music Lovers, to Refresh their Spirits.”
As Glenn Gould remarked, the title offers a very down-to-earth description of a monumental work. Long regarded as the Baroque era’s most important set of variations, the Gold bergs were relatively unknown when he chose them for his recording debut in the 1950s.
The sensation created by his still-popular recordings revivified the piece in concert performances, in which spectators delight in its virtuosic hand-crossings. This affordable edition of the widely performed and appreciated work is essential for all serious pianists and music lovers.