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article: about the placement of "fermatas" in the goldberg variations of bach


EPTA

After having read this article about the Goldberg Variations maybe you also have interest in the following:

I have been trying to look a bit closer to the Fermatas placed at the end of some Variations, as I also was wondering for some time about their position in the piece.

It would be more logically when the fermata would have been placed e.g. after each canon, but Bach has placed them on very different spots.


What strikes me is the fact that there are exactly 14 (=2+1+3+8=b.a.c.h.) variations without a fermata.

Looking at those pieces we get the next division:

with fermatas without fermatas
Aria  
var.1
  group of 3 var.2
var.3
var.4
var.5
  group of 2 var.6
var.7
var.8
  1st of the 8 group var.9
var.10
  2nd of the 8 group var.11
var.12
  3rd of the 8 group var.13
var.14
var.15
  1 isolated var.16
var.17
var.18
  4th of the 8 group var.19
var.20
  5th of the 8 group var.21
var.22
  6th of the 8 group var.23
var.24
  7th of the 8 group var.25
var.26
  8th of the 8 group var.27
var.28
var.29
var.30
Aria d.c.

My guess (!) is that Bach also 'signs' his variations with "fermata-numerology".

The 14 (!)variations without fermata can be divided logically into B-A-C-H=2+1+3+8:
1 group of 3 (=C) (var.2,3,4)
1 group of 2 (B) (var.6,7)
1 isolated one between 2 groups of 2 variations(=A) (var.16)
8 remaining variations (=H) (the 'uneven' vars 11,13,15,19,21,23,25,27).

Maybe this explains the strange position of the fermatas?
Maybe the fermata "closes" symbolically, where absence of Fermata "Opens" symbolically to another layer of meaning?

I would welcome to hear your comments on this, although knowing that numerological explanations might be considered to be "a bit far-fetched".

More interesting things on "Bach & Numbers" can be read here


Tjako van Schie, © 2003