Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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What was I doing before I went to your blog and pressed that start arrow on this video of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations in 1981? I am completely mesmerized by his birthing of this Beauty. His love of Bach's music is tangible. Their expression is both true and sacred. Thanks for helping me wander and be led astray into some unexpected joy. What could be more important in this moment than to witness Creativity in action-and a kind of resurrection of both Johann Sebastian Bach and Glenn Gould?

Jim Ley

Synchronicity is a thrill.

Just this morning I was listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos 2 and 5. I had not pro-actively listened to Bach in years.

My favorite classical piece is Debussy's The Girl With the Flaxen Hair.

Is it true that Bach signed all his work, To The Glory of God?

Roger von Oech

Alima: Glad to hear you're enjoying watching and hearing Glenn Gould perform Bach. I rarely post videos, but in this case I couldn't resist. It's a real treat!

Jim: I don't know if Bach signed every work "To the Glory of God," but it certainly wouldn't surprise me. Bach was profoundly influenced, motivated, and infused by his faith in God.

You state that "synchronicity is a thrill." I was just looking at your lovely "Tidal Zone" photographs. And low and behold, there are 32 photos — the same number as pieces in the "Goldberg Variations." I especially liked #12 and #15 of your photos.

Jim Ley

Roger: I don't know how to pronounce your last name, but...

I think a more appropriate title for your essay might be "von Oech on Bach" if it rhymes.

Thanks for your comments. Being in the Zone is one of my recently acquired pleasures.

Jorge Camoes

Well, there's Uri Cane's *very personal* version... too free, perhaps?

Roger von Oech

Jorge: Thanks for the recommendation. I wasn't familiar with Uri Caine. But I bit: I ordered a used version of His "Goldberg Variations" and also got to listen to some snippets. It looks like Caine has 70 variations (Bach only had 30). Some of them have wonderful names: "The Dig It Variation #5," "The Hot Six Variation #9," and "The I Poem Variation." I'll let you know what I think. It should be fun.


Thanks so much for posting this video! It doesn't get any better than Glenn Gould playing Bach. You can hear his complete absorption in the music, and it is great to now have a chance to too.

I recently discovered Beethoven's 15 "Eroica" Variations that have had an effect on me similar to what you describe above.

Hugh Hollowell

I also have both Gould recordings and I much prefer the 1955, but either is simply sublime.

Thank you so very much for posting the video. The musical world lost a great when he passed away.


I was never exposed to classical music as a child... so I didn't grow to really like it.
That was until I heard the 18-th variation from the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
This video starts with this variation

After that... I've started to actively look for classical music and to really enjoy it...
You can listen to the classics time and again...
The latest discovery is the Flower Duet from Lakme....


In the UK, many brands have been linked to a piece of music that has later resulted in huge sales for the artists. British Airways used a Yanni version of "The Flower Duet" in what became one of its most successful ad campaigns. You can see a video of this verison here:


I cannot thank you enough for finding this...

I am a pencil art hobbyist and Glenn is my faforite subject of all.
Nothing compares to the joy his piano brings to me when it comes to music.

Thank you once again.

Roger von Oech

I am glad so many of you are enjoying Glenn Gould's playing of the Goldberg Variations!

Yuzu: What amazing drawings! I encourage readers to check out her site. Well worth the visit.


Roger, thanks for posting this. I can share that the Goldberg Variations are definitely my source of comfort when I'm travelling. It is what I instinctively go to on my iPod when things get complicated or boring, delayed or cancelled... I slip on my noise cancelling headphones, close my eyes, and let the Master transport me to a much better place. I really enjoy listening to him sing and hum and groan in the background too.

Jerry Bono

I hope that you have discovered the film, "thirty-two short films about glen gould."

Also, Woody Allen said the Goldberg Variations is a summary of the honeymoon activities of Mr. and mrs. goldberg.



I was delighted to run across your old post on the Goldberg Variations. I have been listening to TGV for over forty years, in many versions, starting with Gould's 1955 recording and most recently Andras Schiff's superb 2003 rendering. Why Bach? When I listen to his music, especially the contrapuntal passages, I perceive complex patterns unfolding, and patterns within patterns. It is the play of my mind seeing and making connections, a metaphor that continues to unfold itself in ever more surprising and delightful associations. Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, all understood that grasping form or pattern in complexity (seeming chaos) is the essence of mind. Bach's music is the perfect fusion of mind and feeling.

Max Regor

Where did you get the video? I have the State of Wonder set. To this untrained ear, this is not a video of that recording. In the video the aria is slow but not as excruciatingly slow as the 1981 audio cd recording that I have.

Pauline kirk

I was highly delighted THANKYOU it has been a pleasure listening to your video with Goldberg
posted 27 September 2010
Pauline Kirk___________________________

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