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Cabbage and turnips drive the Goldbergs to the last: #30

Alisdair Kitchen feels the winds of change:

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Variation 30 (Quodlibet)

Instead of the expected Canon at the Tenth (which would break the rule of threes) Bach writes as his final variation an earthy Quodlibet – an ingenious combination of two popular folk tunes, together with the Goldberg bass. Apparently assembled Bachs would improvise such quodlibets at family gatherings over bottles of Thuringian finest… By popular tunes, I of course mean popular in the Bach’s region of Germany in the Baroque, which is to say, completely unknown today! But to experience the sort of knowing giggle that Bach’s listeners would have had, listen to Glenn Gould combine God Save The Queen with the Star-Spangled Banner in an outtake from his 1955 recording:

Incidentally, the title of one of the tunes used in Variation 30 is ‘Cabbage and Turnips Have Driven Me Away’, suggesting that even the great Johann Sebastian was not immune to a good fart joke.


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