Father and son, Rudolf and Peter Serkin both became prominent pianists and were associated with the Goldberg Variations.
Rudolf Serkin’s 1928 performance was recorded on piano rolls and was later restored [linked above].
Peter Serkin recorded a number of performances of the Variations, from early to late in his career [a performance from 2017 is linked above].
Rudolf Serkin made his Berlin debut in 1921 at age 17, performing in Busch’s ensemble as the keyboard soloist in the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. At the end of the concert, Busch told Serkin to play an encore to the enthusiastic audience. Serkin later reported that he asked Busch, “What shall I play?” and Busch “as a joke” told him to play the Goldberg Variations “and I took him seriously. When I finished there were only four people left: Adolf Busch, Artur Schnabel, Alfred Einstein and me”.
Born: 28 March 1903 Eger, Bohemia (now Czech Republic) Died: 8 May 1991 Guilford, Vermont (USA)
Peter Serkin was born in Manhattan. In 1958. At age 11, Serkin began studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, where his teachers included the Polish pianist Mieczysław Horszowski, the American virtuoso Lee Luvisi, as well as his own father. He graduated in 1964 at age 16.
Born: 24 July 1947 Manhattan (USA) Died: 1 February 2020 Red Hook, NY (USA)
March 1965: New York, Recording for RCA
30 January 1982: Live recording in Freiburg
12 March 1986: Saint Paul, MN Pro Arte CDD-331
1 June 1994: New York, BMG Classics 09026 68188 2 DDD
Gustav Leonardt was a Dutch keyboardist, conductor, musicologist, teacher and editor. He was a leading figure in the historically informed performance movement to perform music on period instruments. He performed and conducted a variety of solo, chamber, orchestral, operatic, and choral music from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods. The many composers whose music he recorded as a harpsichordist, organist, clavichordist, fortepianist, chamber musician or conductor included Johann Sebastian Bach.
Glenn Gould signed with Columbia Records’ classical music division in 1955 and recorded The Goldberg Variations, his breakthrough work. Although there was some controversy at Columbia about the appropriateness of this “debut” piece, the record received extraordinary praise and was among the best-selling classical music albums of its era.[wikipedia] Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many recitals.
Born: 25 September 1932 (Toronto, Canada) Died: 4 October 1982 (Toronto, Canada)
Rosalyn Tureck was born in Chicago,_Illinois, the third of three daughters of Russian Jewish immigrants Samuel Tureck (né Turk; Rosalyn’s father was of Turkish descent) and Monya (Lipson) Tureck. She was the granddaughter of a cantor from Kiev. The first of her teachers to recognize her special gifts for playing the music of Bach was the Javanese-born Dutch pianist Jan Chiapusso.
Her 1947 recording is said to have been an influence on Glenn Gould for his 1955 recording.
Born: 14 December 1913 (Chicago, Il) Died: 17 July 2003 (New York, NY)
Claudio Arrau León was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning the baroque to 20th-century composers, especially Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Brahms.
This 1942 RCA studio recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, was remastered in 1988, after it had “sat in the vaults [of RCA] for 46 years”. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Wikipedia
Born: 7 February 1903, Chillán, Chile Died: 9 June 1991, Mürzzuschlag, Austria Date of burial: 16 June 1991
This is the oldest available recording of the ‘Goldberg’, made in Paris in 1933. Wanda Aleksandra Landowska was a Polish harpsichordist and pianist whose performances, teaching, writings and especially her many recordings played a large role in reviving the popularity of the harpsichord in the early 20th century.
She recorded it again in New York in 1945 (see below). [Wikipedia]
Full name: Wanda Aleksandra Landowska Born: 5 July 1879, Warsaw, Poland Died: 16 August 1959, Lakeville, Salisbury, Connecticut, United States Interviews: Youtube.com
So here we are… On a whim, I thought that it would be fun pulling together 32 publicly available performances of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988). That will make 32 times 32, uh… 1024 movements! A nice number for a digital native, but let’s not play them all in one day!
There is so much available online about music, compositions and performances that, some days, it feels like a jungle or a labyrinth. Here we’ll try and to connect to the best and brightest. Aside from the performances, we’ll collect interesting facts and reviews about each performance. One performance each week, our first post will appear on 3 September 2022.
I’ll concentrate on how everything I can draw together on the Variations from publicly available sources. It is a voyage of discovery for me (an enthusiast rather then an expert) and, along the way, I hope to meet some kindred spirits to enjoy it with me. And of course feel free to critique!
Marius Comments/Suggestions/Criticism? email me at email@example.com