Johann Sebastian Bach composed the Goldberg Variations BWV 988 in 1741, when he was living in Leipzig in Germany.
The Variations are thought to have been commissioned by Count Kaiserling, who asked J. S. Bach to compose a piece of music to help with his insomnia. The Count asked Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, a musician who worked for him, to play it in the antechamber next to his bedroom at night when he couldn't sleep.
It’s unclear whether or not the Goldberg Variations had the desired soporific effect but the work has become known as a towering masterpiece in keyboard music and classical music.
Recordings of the Goldbergs have often been high profile and impactful: Glenn Gould recorded the Variations in 1955 and it not only launched his career but also became one of the best-selling piano recordings of all time. Since then, the Goldbergs have remained some of the most recorded and recognisable works in the classical canon.
Joanna Macgregor is widely regarded as one of the great interpreters of the Goldberg Variations living today. Her recital in St James’s Piccadilly in London was received with great enthusiasm, both in-person and online.