Arts & Culture News

Bach Goes Open Source: You Now Own the Goldberg Variations.

Last year a campaign was designed to raise funds for a unique experiment: Create a completely free to the public, new score and recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations. The plan was set loose on Kickstarter, exceeded its monetary minimum and is now complete, making it the first publicly-funded version of the popular transcription. It's also the first open source, free version of it, meaning that you can download and share both the sheet music and the recording -- brought into being under the Creative Commons Zero License, they are now a part of the public domain.

In an era of rapid downloads, we've grown to associate "old" and "free," but that's often not the case with Classical music. The red tape is tied up in arrangements, transcriptions, editors and recordings -- all of which need to be paid off. So while a piece's author might have died more than 75 years ago, snagging his opus will come at a price. Unless a brand new score is crafted and gifted to the public, such as in this case, with all parties involved volunteering his or her time and signing over their rights to future kickbacks, the classics cannot be accessible to everyone.

The minds behind the Open Goldberg Variations went baller with the plan: they snagged pianist Kimiko Ishizaka to voluntarily perform the version, which was created by the Warner Schweer and the team at, an open source free digital software program that allows for peer review. It was recorded at Berlin's Teldex Studio on a donated Bösendorfer 290 Imperial. Now, the project is available for you to share and use however you see fit.

There is one final component: On June 24 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Wisconson Public Radio will display the digital score of a broadcast recording as the new Open Goldberg Variations are played on the air.

Listen to them. Download them. Have Siri remix the things. They're free, and you'll find them right here.

In honor of the Open Goldberg Variations, here's a really cool Rube Goldberg Machine and a link to free Classical music online.

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