GENERAL DISCUSSION: Bach Goldberg Variations

Seems like a few of us are interested in taking a deep dive into a few of the amazing Goldberg Variations!

 

Since we will all be busy with next month's Community Challenge, I was thinking that this project could have a longer timeline.   Perhaps we could even learn a few variations over the winter holidays?

 

What do you think about everyone learning the Aria and the each member suggests 1 variation for us all to learn? 

 

So far, I think we have about 5-6 Tonebase friends in this group, so that would be only 5-6  variations so far.  Please tag anyone else who'd like to join this "additional" challenge group!

 

Warmest regards,

Gail

 

  Monika Tusnady Susan Sindre     Pauline Juan Carlos Olite Genevieve

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  • Inspiration for the day !

    "There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."  Johann Sebastian Bach 
     

    Like 3
    • mariannejhampton While doing so successfully might not be "remarkable" its still definitely hard :)

      Like 1
    • Dominic Cheli  I have a feeling that Bach was quite the joker when he made this statement ! Surely a man would need to have a sense of humor to  have 2 wives and 20 children ! 

      Like 2
    • mariannejhampton Oh it is so true that he was a joker! For example, Goldberg Variation 30 is a "quodlibet" based on multiple German folk songs. Take a look at the titles/lyrics of these songs that Bach would have sung:

       

      ("I have so long been away from you, come closer, come closer") 

       

      ("Cabbage and turnips have driven me away, had my mother cooked meat, I'd have opted to stay"). 

       

      Quite humorous and funny!

      Like 1
    • Dominic Cheli I’ll check out those folk songs . I think he also enjoyed a good brew, got in trouble for cavorting with a young unmarried woman in a hayloft and spent a month in prison for participating in a street fight !! Just a normal genius !

      Like
    • Monika Tusnady
    • The Retired French Teacher
    • Monikainfrance
    • 9 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    WHY WE PLAY THE PIANO

    “When the self loses itself in a transcendent purpose — whether to write great poetry, craft beautiful furniture, understand the motions of galaxies, or help children be happier — the self becomes largely invulnerable to the fears and setbacks of ordinary existence.”

     - Csíkszentmihályi RIP

    To which degree does working on the Goldberg Variations meet this definition of FLOW for you? 

    Like 4
      • Juan Carlos Olite
      • Philosophy teacher and piano lover
      • Juan_Carlos
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      It does work perfectly well. Great psychologist Milhalyi Csikszentmihalyi and wonderful book "Flow". Thank for reminding us, Monika.  I am trying everyday to show my students the necessity to look for these human activities that can lead them to the state of Flow.

      Like 3
      • Monika Tusnady
      • The Retired French Teacher
      • Monikainfrance
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Juan Carlos Olite good for you! My first week was difficult to the extreme, with ideas that seemed interesting but impossible to bring to life. No flow! It’s picking up now, but to keep things joyful, I will limit myself to only a few variations. 

      Like 3
      • Sindre Skarelven
      • Pianist, composer and piano teacher
      • Sindre_Skarelven
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Monika Tusnady I remember learning and reading some of this research in my student days. One thing I always remember, and that I think about as a piano teacher, is the importance of studying material with the right degree of difficulty. In fact, I think it was only 4% above our current level that we should take on. Meaning, if things are too difficult, it's easy to loose motivation. The only exception is if we have a strong inner drive to learn a certain piece. 

      I have only looked at the piece a little bit so far, but I hope to get a sense of flow when learning it. I can report back on that later when I've gotten into it! :D 

      Like 3
    • Sindre Skarelven I am not a teacher but I do agree with setting small achievable goals especially for myself .  

      Like 3
      • Monika Tusnady
      • The Retired French Teacher
      • Monikainfrance
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Sindre Skarelven It would not be overstating the facts to say that this group has a particularly strong inner drive! 

      Like 4
      • Sindre Skarelven
      • Pianist, composer and piano teacher
      • Sindre_Skarelven
      • 9 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      mariannejhampton That is a very clever thing to do! 

      Like 3
      • Sindre Skarelven
      • Pianist, composer and piano teacher
      • Sindre_Skarelven
      • 9 mths ago
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      Monika Tusnady Absolutely! I feel very driven and motivated by just being in this group! :)  

      Like 2
    • Monika Tusnady I remember first working on the Goldberg Variations and struggling with flow! It is such a massive piece that it was hard to see the "end of the tunnel" or in other words "When/how will I be able to perform this piece???"

       

      This takes me to mariannejhampton  points. 

       

      SMALL achievable goals with consistent, patient steps forward is CRITICAL to approaching this Mt. Everest of the repertoire. That is why I am so supportive of studying specific variations and creating small concert suites of different selections, because it can be quite successful! 

      Like 1
      • Monika Tusnady
      • The Retired French Teacher
      • Monikainfrance
      • 9 mths ago
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      Dominic Cheli  Thank you for those words. The Goldberg Variations have been the Mount Everest of my life and I’ll admit to quite the feeling of inadequacy for never having had the time to learn them. (That’s an awfully long time!) Now I feel that I no longer need to. 
      I don’t really know where to post this so I’ll just continue here: A THOUSAND THANK YOUS for the LIVESTREAM conversation around pianist health! There were so many takeaways from that session: Cold and heat; overuse resulting from what I had never thought of as the unnatural act of playing the piano; the allowances we need to make as we age 😢.  After watching, I committed to following your advice to rest for 10 minutes after every 20 minutes of practice -  one more way to put an Apple Watch to good use! Thank you!

      Like 2
    • Monika Tusnady Awesome! SO happy that my livestream with Dr. Kleinman was of use to you! I think he is brilliant and there is a lot to learn and apply to our practicing/musical/overall lives!

      Like 1
      • Hilda HuangTeam
      • Concert Pianist and tonebase Piano Community Lead
      • Hilda
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Monika Tusnady What a great question, Monika.... I'm always thinking about this question. Actually the first time I performed it was when I was 13, and I had only finished memorizing it the night before. So I just closed my eyes and went head first for it.... and I had to purely rely on flow to get me through it all. What a magical feeling when the music carries you along....

      Like 1
  • I can honestly say that I never found Bach boring and have loved to listen to (and poorly play) his compositions ever since my first inventions when I was about 10 yrs old . Whether the music is fast , slow , gloomy , passionate etc it definitely takes me to a better place and for a while I can focus and leave everything else behind . 
    ‘I love the variations and although I didn’t care for looking up all those trills , mordants , inverted mordants etc I am enjoying the process of solving the puzzles !  Of course I’m sure all those puzzles have been solved over and over in the past 400 years but they’re new and creative to me.

    Like 3
      • Monika Tusnady
      • The Retired French Teacher
      • Monikainfrance
      • 9 mths ago
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      mariannejhampton You have been silent for some time on Community. Just checking in with you to see how Bach is coming along, or whether you will join in the Brahms Waltzes!

      Like 2
    • Monika Tusnady I’ve been very lazy this past two weeks and took a break although I have been checking both challenge pages to see what everyone is up to ! However after reading your message I have been prompted to start practicing again ! I also saw your pic ( you’re holding a glass of wine ) so I’ve opened some white wine to ease me into practicing 😊😊😊😊

      Like 4
    • mariannejhampton Bach takes us to the highest of heights in music! His music can be appreciated from every corner, angle and phrase. It is like seeing an architectural marvel, perfect from the foundation, to the tallest tower!

       

      It is great that you are challenging yourself, puzzles are so good for our brains!

      Like
      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      mariannejhampton I think I'll take your suggestion and add some wine to my practicing.

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  • Goldberg Variations are never in my repertoire. I do like it, but it's LONG. I never really started digging into it. Looks like it's a good chance to have a deep look inside the piece.

    Like 1
    • Anthony Miyake
    • Work with numbers and statistics, but music is my true passion. Piano hobbyist.
    • Anthony_Miyake
    • 6 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Think I'll jump in and join the fun.  Just received my Schirmer's Library manuscript of this piece which has all the ornamentals written out as I have a hard time figuring all the squiggly lines in the Urtext version.

    Like 1
      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Anthony Miyake Those squiggles drive me crazy!  I actually kind of gave up, and I'm just going to "make up" my own, LOL...

      Like
    • Hilda HuangTeam
    • Concert Pianist and tonebase Piano Community Lead
    • Hilda
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi Friends!!! Gail Starr Thanks Gail for suggesting this discussion - just wanted to bump this thread because it's bach month this month and I'd love to hear you play some of the Goldberge this March.

     

    PSA - I'm going to be throwing an interactive masterclass later this month, and one of the categories of pieces will be a variation or two from the Goldberg variations. When the invitation to play comes out, please feel free to propose your variations and I'll look through the proposals. The final list of performers will be chosen based on a repertoire combination that will allow me to convey some important points in Bach-performance.

     

    I'm hoping to work on No. 25, that wonderful aria - Actually I play the Beethoven Diabelli variations too, and the great aria in the Diabellis has so many resonances with Goldbergs 25.

    Looking forward to hearing you all!!

     

    Hilda

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