Glenn Gould: The Goldberg Variations
The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions

The recording industry of the 20th century saw stars become legends and albums become icons of popular culture. Completed in a total of only four days and released in January 1956, Glenn Gould’s first recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations became one of the most successful classical albums of all time and an icon in the history of the gramophone record. With unprecedented completeness, the present release documents the events that unfolded in the studios of Columbia Records on 10–16 June 1955, when the then twenty-two-year-old Canadian pianist recorded his début album for Columbia Masterworks.

Once the LP master tape had been edited, the ten remaining magnetic tapes of the recording sessions were stored in the archive of Columbia Records. There they remained, untouched and forgotten for more than 60 years, while Gould pursued his career not only as a pianist (both onstage and in the studio) but also as a composer, writer and radio and television broadcaster, rapidly emerging as one of the most charismatic artists of the 20th century – and while the world of music outside was changing dramatically: from mono to stereo, from analogue to digital recording, from LPs via cassettes and CDs to digital downloads and internet streams, while record companies were bought up and restructured and archives frequently relocated.

From 1 September 2017, with the release of Glenn Gould: The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions, it will be possible for the first time to accompany Gould into the Columbia studio with his producer Howard Scott and his sound engineer Fred Plaut and listen as one of the most famous recordings in the world came into existence – from the very first note on the morning of 10 June 1955 to the famous last take of the Aria at around 11 o’clock at night on 16 June, a take that was to ensure Gould’s immortal fame.

The aim of this release is to document the whole of the recording process from the label’s perspective and to preserve it for posterity. It is intended to offer us – and future generations – the chance to attend the birth of one of the most legendary albums in music history and gain an insight into the analogue recording process, a process that now belongs to the past. It is also hoped that this comprehensive documentation will serve as material for subsequent research into the pianist’s life and work.

Glenn Gould: The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased Recording Sessions is the most comprehensive special edition ever dedicated to a single classical music album. Released in the year of Glenn Gould’s 85th anniversary, it features his complete 1955 recording sessions of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on 5 CDs (including the studio conversations between him and his producer), restored from the original 1/4-inch analogue tapes and remastered using 24 bit / 96 kHz technology, plus the final album on both CD and heavyweight 180g vinyl, as well as an extra CD, Glenn Gould Discusses his Performances of the “Goldberg Variations” with Tim Page. The edition comes with a 90 x 60 cm (36 x 24") poster and a 280-page hard-cover coffee-table book, featuring 45 sensational, newly discovered photos from the recording sessions, the complete musical score, several essays and an extensive documentation – including facsimiles of more than 20 archival documents detailing how an analogue vinyl LP was recorded in the mid-1950s.


CD 1
Aria, Takes 1–6
Variation 1, Takes 1–3; Remakes Takes 1–13
Variation 2, Takes 1–13
Variation 3, Takes 1–3
Variation 4, Takes 1–10
Variation 5, Takes 1–9

CD 5
Variation 25, Takes 1/2
Variation 26, Takes 1–3; Insert 1 Take 1
Variation 27, Takes 1–4
Variation 28, Takes 1–4
Variation 29, Take 1
Variation 30, Takes 1–3 Aria, Remake Takes 1–12

CD 2
Variation 6, Takes 1–16
Variation 7, Takes 1–5; Remakes Takes 1–10
Variation 8, Takes 1–3
Variation 9, Takes 1–10
Variation 10, Takes 1/2
Variation 11, Takes 1–8

CD 6
Glenn Gould Discusses his Performances of the “Goldberg Variations” with Tim Page

CD 3
Variation 12, Takes 1–18
Variation 13, Take 1–5
Variation 14, Takes 1/2
Variation 15, Takes 1–6
Variation 16, Takes 1/2; Insert 1, Takes 1–3
Variation 17, Takes 1–4; Insert 1, Takes 1–5

CD 7
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – final edit

CD 4
Variation 18, Takes 1–11
Variation 19, Takes 1–5
Variation 20, Takes 1–4
Variation 21, Takes 1–6; Insert 1 Takes 1/2
Variation 22, Takes 1–4; Insert 1
Variation 23, Takes 1–11; Remake Takes 1–3
Variation 24, Takes 1–12; Insert 1 Takes 1–4

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – final edit (180 g vinyl)