This sequence of poems is loosely based on the structure and
mood of Bach's great keyboard work, first published in 1741 as
Keyboard exercise, consisting of an Aria with diverse variations
for harpsichord with two manuals, and later known as the
Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. While writing, I particularly
had in mind two individualistic interpretations of the Goldberg
Variations: Tatiana Nikolayeva's January 1992 piano recording
(Hyperion Records), basing the architecture of individual poems
and stanzas on her artistic decisions regarding tempo and
repeats; and Jerome Robbins's 1971 ballet of the same name,
which I saw performed by New York City Ballet first in 1995 and
many times thereafter in subsequent seasons, and which
provided me with the beginning threads of emotional content
and theme as well as structure.
In 2012, Kimiko Ishizaka created The Open Goldberg Variations
project. Her goal was to create a new, beautiful and exciting
interpretation, precise to Bach's instruction, yet full of personality
and character, and further, to give it a life of its own so that it
will be enjoyed by audiences for decades to come. She created
the recording with a Creative Commons Zero license—which
enables artists and other creators to place their work in the
public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance
and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under
On finishing my writing, I recorded the poems atop Ishizaka's
recording. I am sincerely grateful for having her beautiful
performance as a foundation upon which to build.
The combined poem/piano recordings on this site are available
for download here. Kimiko Ishizaka's original 2012 album of
The Goldberg Variations is available here and on all major
streaming platforms. Inquire here for a limited edition book
of the poems.
—David Zaza, New York, 2020
Non-Figurative, Two-Shaped, Anti-Gravity Song: performed in
The Kiss, a puppet play by Mark Fox and David Zaza, produced
by Franklin Furnace, New York, New York, 1998.
Variation: published in Coracle, Berkeley, California, 2002.
Stretching: published in Ardor, Grey, Maine, 2013.
The Lane: published in Squalorly, Michigan/Minnesota, 2015.
Allusions to Grandeur and Daring: published in The Perch,
New Haven,Connecticut, 2015.