News & Events

Orfe to Perform Bach’s "Goldberg Variations"

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– School of Music Visiting Assistant Professor of Music John Orfe will perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations on piano on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. in Presser Hall’s Westbrook Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public.

Bach’s Goldberg Variations was originally published in 1741. This closed Bach’s Clavier-Übung (“Keyboard Practice”) project, the first volume of which was published in 1731. The piece is Bach’s largest single continuous work for solo piano. It is described by Orfe as “keyboard practice, consisting of an ARIA with diverse variations for a harpsichord of two manuals.”

The composition has a unique history. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg was a harpsichordist employed by the Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony in Germany. According to Bach’s first biographer, the ambassador had insomnia and asked Bach to write cheerful pieces for Goldberg to play for his sleepless nights. Goldberg Variations pleased the ambassador so much that he paid Bach 100 golden coins and the work was published during Bach’s lifetime, which was unique at the time.

For more information on this event and others, please contact the School of Music at (309) 556-3061.

By Megan Baker ’21