Oshima-Ryan Performs Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” Sunday Posted on October 14th, 2009 by

Pianist Yumiko Oshima-Ryan

Pianist Yumiko Oshima-Ryan

“The Goldberg Variations,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s An Aria with Thirty Variations, will be performed by pianist Yumiko Oshima-Ryan, associate professor of music at Gustavus Adolphus College, Sunday, October 18, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in Jussi Björling Recital Hall. This performance is free and open to the public.

It is believed that the “Goldberg Variations” were named after an extraordinary student, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, brought to Bach by the Russian Ambassador, Count Kaiserling. The story continues that the Count suffered from insomnia and young Goldberg would play the clavier to soothe the Count. When the Count suggested that Bach compose something specifically for this purpose, the composer returned with the variations.

Oshima-Ryan writes “whether the story is true or false, I sense that this composition has an amazing power of healing the human soul that comes through the compassionate warmth, faith, and most of all, strong hope and love expressed in Bach’s music.” 250 years later, we can “still feel the joy of Bach’s great art and his energy in our modern world of sleeplessness and suffering.”

First published in 1741, the “Goldberg Variations” were originally composed for harpsichord with two manuals. This presents a number of difficulties for the pianist as she performs the work on the one manual of the modern piano. As such, the variations are repertoire which continue to challenge concert pianists more than 250 years after its composition.

Sunday’s performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” by pianist Yumiko Oshima-Ryan begins at 3:30 in Björling Recital Hall. It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception for the pianist in the recital hall lobby.


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