The Open Goldberg Variations: J.S. Bach’s Masterpiece Free to Download

First pub­lished in 1741, J.S. Bach’s Gold­berg Vari­a­tions is often con­sid­ered the most ambi­tious com­po­si­tion ever writ­ten for harp­si­chord. As this con­ver­sa­tion at NPR notes, the piece begins “with an ini­tial melody, the Aria, fol­lowed by 30 short but bril­liant vari­a­tions built on eight notes that Bach appears to have bor­rowed from Han­del.” It’s an impres­sive exam­ple of musi­cal one-upman­ship — so impres­sive that the demand­ing piece still cap­tures our often divid­ed atten­tion today.

Now, with no fur­ther delay, let me direct your atten­tion to The Open Gold­berg Vari­a­tions, the first Kick­starter-fund­ed, open source record­ing of Bach’s mas­ter­piece, avail­able entire­ly for free. If you click here, you can down­load and share the new­ly-released record­ing by Kimiko Ishiza­ka, per­formed on a Bösendor­fer 290 Impe­r­i­al piano in Berlin. You can do pret­ty much what­ev­er you want with the record­ing because it’s released under a Cre­ative Com­mons Zero license, which auto­mat­i­cal­ly puts things in the pub­lic domain.

You can also stream the Open Gold­berg Vari­a­tions below, and don’t miss this very relat­ed item: How to Down­load the Com­plete Organ Works of J.S. Bach for Free. And then this bonus: Glenn Gould’s Per­for­mance of the Gold­berg Vari­a­tion’s online.

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Comments (8)
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  • jazz says:

    What a great present ! Muchas gra­cias!

  • John Leigh says:


  • Real­ly its not the best of the inter­pre­ta­tions, not even close… but its a great piece to share free with the com­mu­ni­ty. It was an order of a guy that could­n’t sleep to Johann Sebas­t­ian.

    In resume, more Bach and less sleep­ing pills!

  • David Moreno says:

    I thought you were pub­lish­ing the scores…

  • You’re read­ing my mind. :)
    Have been pret­ty obsessed with the Vari­a­tions. See blog entry (from few days ago @ above address, enti­tled ” Vari­a­tio­nen 16–30 Aria da Capo. Using Ring­droid to select favorite pas­sages. :)

  • Henry Young says:

    Won­der­ful idea for Kick­starter and love­ly per­for­mance. Thanks for all who made it hap­pen.

  • Pongodhall says:

    Very beau­ti­ful. Won­drous com­po­si­tions. Thank you so much and I have put this site on Twit­ter and do hope oth­ers learn about and enjoy this too. This site is hith­er­to com­plete­ly unknown to me and I am very glad to have come across it.

  • Pongodhall says:

    For David and Diana
    I enjoy many inter­pre­ta­tions and it is a mat­ter of per­son­al taste for no-one may say what is right or wrong except for them­selves.
    Music, art, books and many things are sim­ply a mat­ter of pref­er­ence.

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