Despite its historic stature, this is truly Bach for today. Constantly re-interpreted and frequently arranged for other instruments or ensembles, the Goldberg Variations' ability to conjure up the enchanted ‘other world' to which music gives us access has given it an especially central place in the hearts of performers, listeners and analysts. However, it has remained an inspiration not just to musicians, but within the wider culture. At least three recent novels (by Gabriel Josipovici, Nancy Huston and Alexandre Jardin) have used its title and form, most specifically as a starting point for stories on or approaches to the variety and mysteries of love. Within cinema, it not only forms the evidently appropriate structural basis of the 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould, but a touchstone for the alchemical possibilities of life and love, as played by Juliette Binoche in the film version of The English Patient. Much as the Variations' conclusion enacts the eternal return of life, then, so its very existence remains an endlessly fertile symbol for artistic renewal.
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