National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta, Malta View map

The Three Palaces Festival Early Opera & Music Festival is a festival that takes place during the first week of November. Organised by Festivals Malta, the festival focuses on the premise that “our ordinary is actually extraordinary”, which is coming from the fact that in Malta we are surrounded by magnificent buildings that we pass by every day and barely notice their beauty.

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Ticket sales finished!

Ticket sales for Goldberg Variations BWV 988 unfortunately have now finished!


For more information visit: https://www.festivals.mt/what-s-on/goldberg-variations-by-carole-cerasi

Kindly note that the venue is accessible only through stairs. No lift service is available.

Carole Cerasi – Harpsichord

The famous anecdote surrounding Bach’s Goldberg Variations concerns Count Keyserlingk, who had commissioned the work in 1741 for his protégé Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, in order to help overcome the count’s insomnia. This seems unlikely as Goldberg was only fourteen at the time, and the piece is hardly soporific!

The work was not, in fact, named ‘Goldberg Variations’ by Bach. The title page reads, in German: Keyboard exercise, consisting of an ARIA with diverse variations for harpsichord with two manuals. Composed for connoisseurs, for the refreshment of their spirit, by Johann Sebastian Bach […]. The aria, a sarabande in G major, is followed by 30 variations, ranging from simple two-part inventions to an arioso in minor key (the ‘Black Pearl’), punctuated, every third variation, by a canon. Variation 30, a Quodlibet, fuses together two popular songs: ‘I have so long been away from you’ and ‘Cabbages and turnips have driven me away’. The aria is then played again, to end this mammoth work in quiet serenity.

The Goldbergs have become an iconic piece of the keyboard repertoire. Is it one of the greatest musical journeys, from which the player and audience emerge exhausted but elated? Is it Bach’s testament to his mastery of both dance and polyphony? Is it one of the most lyrical and lovely works ever composed? Is it to be listened to with head bowed in reverence, or feet tapping in excitement? The wonder of this piece, of course, is that it is all those things, and each listener will find his own way to marvel at Bach’s genius.

Disclaimer:  Patrons are advised that stiletto heels are not permitted in the cathedral and admission can be denied.