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Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2753623 07/24/18 03:57 PM
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In my case, I would estimate about 250 years, but that is probably an underestimation.


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Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
BDB #2753637 07/24/18 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
In my case, I would estimate about 250 years, but that is probably an underestimation.


Well, it's already been five years since the OP posed the question, so he's on his way, I would assume.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
KlavierLiebhaber #2753651 07/24/18 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by KlavierLiebhaber


Finally, I want to say that the concept of performing in one sitting the ENTIRE Goldberg Variations or all of the WTC or even all of a Partita or English Suite is a complete anachronism. Bach nor any of his contemporaries every expected this. And although one certainly gains many things as both listener and performer with a complete performance of the Goldbergs, every variation is a sweeping jewel unto itself and comes across as such when performed by itself or with other variations. I believe these variations deserve to be freed from the straightjacket of the "complete performance" obsession.

I agree totally.

One should be free of shackles when it comes to performing. I'm a fast learner (it took me 1 second to learn Mary Had a Little Lamb, and even less than that to learn Happy Birthday), and it only took me a year (365 days, not a leap year) to learn the Aria, and perform it. Another 365 days, and I now have Variation 1 in the bag. All I need is to learn Variation 30 and the concluding Aria (another 731 days - including a leap year), and I consider that my performing version of the Goldberg is complete. To paraphrase the great Thomas Beecham: "There are two golden rules for a pianist - play the beginning and the end. The public doesn't give a dam* what goes on in between."

Incidentally, I'm following in the exalted footsteps of the great Sviatoslav Richter (who deigned to learn and perform those few Freddy Preludes that appealed to him) and the equally great ABM, who deigned to perform those Brahms/Pag variations that appealed to him.

I'm presently learning a Super-Luddy Sonata comprising five of my favorite movements taken from his complete oeuvre, starting of course at the beginning (always a good place to start, as Maria told us in The Sound of Music) with Op.2 No.1's first movement and finishing with Op.111's second movement (theme & variations of course - I only play my favourite variations). This Super-Luddy son of a sonata exhibits progressive tonality, starting in F minor and finishing in glorious C major (presaging Mahler et al), and is superb for those who don't have fifteen hours to waste on listening to all the movements of all the 32 (or 35, depending on which edition you have) sonatas.

Even if I say so myself.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
dolce sfogato #2753699 07/24/18 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
it took me a few weeks to learn them, a few years to think that I knew them, a few decades to learn that I didn't, and half a life to just have the guts to perform them, still not sure about it.

^^ One of the great posts in the history of our site. ^^

Really. smile

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2753713 07/25/18 02:12 AM
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I began my study of the Goldbergs a few years ago and am still mastering them. But now I can play through all of them (well, I've put off playing No. 20, to my mind the most difficult). But I broke them down into categories what I considered do-able, moderately difficult, difficult and very difficult. Some of the hand crossing variations on two manuals fell into the latter category. But then I decided to play some of the passages uncrossed and that made it much easier. I then sight read them out of sequence and slowly practiced until I was able to commit them to muscle memory. That took about 6 -8 months. Learning them by category made me feel like I was accomplishing a goal, rather than trying to play them all consecutively. But once they were mastered, I was able to play them back in the right order since Bach had a particular logic in how they were sequenced.
Since I'm not playing for performance, there is no rule that they be played consecutively or even all at once. Right now I'm satisfied with playing 5 a day. Or I'll play in groupings of 10 (still in consecutive order). What's nice is that they're all fairly short and with the repeats you get extra playing time on difficult measures.
I use the Goldbergs as my warm-up since they demand such independence of the fingers. Even though they are all in the same key (only 3 minor variants) I never tire of them!
I don't revere the Gould readings at all, his are way too fast in his first version, as if he was constrained by what time limits the technology demanded at the time. Playing them at breakneck speed robs the listener of the contrapuntal mastery and the dance rhythms that Bach wrote into the score.
Both Schiff and Hewitt bring much more to the table in my opinion. And a recording by Igor Levitt (as part of his variation trilogy) and a recent one by Alexandre Tharaud are very interesting.


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Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2753717 07/25/18 03:35 AM
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Well it's nearly two years since the OP last visited the site, and his own website shows him currently working on a Beethoven Sonata, with a Bagatelle to follow.

Looks like he polished off the Goldbergs and moved on smile


‘A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth’ – Albert Einstein
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Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2753754 07/25/18 09:13 AM
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So delighted to hear such enthusiasm from fellow pianists for the Goldbergs smile Bennevis and Beezee - sounds like you two are rockin' it! I like the "5 variations a day" bit --- certainly it starts to become challenging the more variations you learn because you have to keep up what you HAVE learned while you still learn more variations. But it's a glorious problem to have. "Bach puts in order what life can not."


Schimmel C126
Bach, Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
Lillith #2753771 07/25/18 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Lillith
.....his own website shows him currently working on a Beethoven Sonata....

Thanks for mentioning! I went to take a look, and saw that it includes a recording of a passage of the piece.
I was surprised to find that he plays far better (provided that's really him, which I'll assume it is) grin than I'd expect of someone who would have asked such a question.
Assuming that's him, he's about as fully up to being able to 'really' play the Goldberg Variations as just about anyone else.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2754704 07/30/18 09:32 AM
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If you listen to the second last set of masterpieces by Bach which is "The Musical Offering" BWV 1079 to Frederick the Great containing fugues, canons & other pieces with the theme repeated over many pieces. The Goldberg Variations aren't all that straightforward. The 30 some odd variations that have little in common with each other except that they are all in the same Key of G. If you work on it 1 Variation per month, it'd take just over 2 years to complete the entire thing without repeating any of the Variations.

Most people including myself don't play the Goldberg Variations in its entirety because we are also learning other pieces in our spare time. The years that I've been playing I only tried Aria, Var. 7 & 30. Once met a young man who was studying for an university degree in music. He was able to play the first 6 Variations from memory.

The most famous set of recordings probably came from the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould in 1981 made from his home studio. He made 2 recordings of the Variations (1955 & 1981) during his lifetime. In the 1981 recording, you can hear him making humming noise every once in a while. Not sure if he played all the Variations just once from top to bottom. Gould would often replay & rerecord pieces or sections of pieces if he thought they didn't sound the way he liked.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
BeeZee4 #2761857 08/30/18 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BeeZee4
...Both Schiff and Hewitt bring much more to the table in my opinion...


Lots to agree with in the earlier part of this post, but it's rather criminal to have Schiff and Hewitt in the same sentence. Maybe Schiff and Perahia, with Rana in the ballpark. Sokolov even.


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
...
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the Schifference.
Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
Think Schifferent #2761871 08/30/18 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Think Schifferent
.....it's rather criminal to have Schiff and Hewitt in the same sentence....

I have to disagree with you hugely.

Unless it turns out that you're Andras Schiff, in which case I'll say I was just kidding. ha

BTW I'd disagree just as hugely if someone had said it with the opposite connotation.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
decibel101 #2762047 08/30/18 07:41 PM
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What scares me most about the Goldberg variations is not the technical difficulty, but rather the amount of mental effort I would have to put in to craft a convincing interpretation. It just seems draining to me, to be honest, and I am not sure if I'm capable of doing that right now.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
Think Schifferent #2762456 09/01/18 10:33 AM
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I agree with you. I have listened to the complete Bach recordings done by Hewitt and although I respect her as a pianist and musician I find her sudden tempo changes (ritardandos) spoil the flow of some of the pieces. With Schiff there's a beautiful flow and clarity with his Bach. I prefer Gould's second recording over his first in this grand piece. That said, technically I've sight read through the entire GV and technically found them not excessively difficult until I came to the hand crossings whereas individually not difficult but together very much so.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
kbrod1 #2762468 09/01/18 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kbrod1
I agree with you [i.e. Think Schifferent]. I have listened to the complete Bach recordings done by Hewitt and although I respect her as a pianist and musician I find her sudden tempo changes (ritardandos) spoil the flow of some of the pieces. With Schiff there's a beautiful flow and clarity with his Bach.....

In disagreeing, I was talking in general about their Bach playing, not just this piece.
It seemed he was talking more generally.

Re: Goldberg Variations - Estimate your time to learn
kbrod1 #2764805 09/11/18 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by kbrod1
I agree with you. I have listened to the complete Bach recordings done by Hewitt and although I respect her as a pianist and musician I find her sudden tempo changes (ritardandos) spoil the flow of some of the pieces. With Schiff there's a beautiful flow and clarity with his Bach. I prefer Gould's second recording over his first in this grand piece. That said, technically I've sight read through the entire GV and technically found them not excessively difficult until I came to the hand crossings whereas individually not difficult but together very much so.


Well-put @Kbrod1 - Hewitt's relationship with time seems more pedantic and less organic than Schiff's. One could say the same about her relationship with shape, resonance, harmony, articulation, tone...


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
...
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the Schifference.
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