Apr 16, 2020

Grégoire Jeay introduces The Phantom of Goldberg

Grégoire Jeay, composer.

In our 2019/20 season, we are exploring how "old" can meet "new." This theme runs across our season in many ways, including six short new works by living composers written to complement the programs.

We are delighted to welcome Grégoire Jeay, who was commissioned to compose a new work for solo harpsichord for our Goldberg Variations program in April.

Grégoire Jeay introduces The Phantom of Goldberg

In conceiving this piece for solo harpsichord, I have opted for a language that in its essence is that of 18th-century Europe, but which includes some harmonic and rhythmic freedoms that step outside this frame. I chose not to write a 31st variation, but rather to offer an “Ouverture à la française” which announces, very modestly, the immensity of this masterpiece. Bach himself writes a variation in overture form at the midpoint of the set (Varation 17), but it seemed to me appropriate to introduce another, as the overture style perfectly evokes the baroque epoch, and the nobility of the immense project which is the Goldbergs.

I discovered the Goldberg Variations as a teenager, first as played by harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt, and then by the pianist Glenn Gould. At the time, I did not grasp the architectural genius of this monument, but I was deeply touched by the beauty that emerged as the movements unfolded. Above all, it is the feeling that Bach was totally dedicated to his art without seeking the success of esteem that makes him, to my eyes, such a great composer.

Grégoire Jeay composer

Grégoire Jeay has composed several soundtracks and has provided music for live visual art performances,and for circuses in both Europe and China. He has also written a theatre piece for youth (Le Visiteur, withLes Jeunesses Musicales du Canada), the theme of which is the discovery of baroque music. Among hissoundtracks are those written for the television series Mystical Women of the Middle Ages, from whichtwo CDs have been produced: Musica Mystica 1 & 2. For concert stages Grégoire has composed works for solo instrumentalists, as well as for various ensembles, notably La Mandragore. Tafelmusik was honoured to premiere his concerto for flute, violin, harpsichord, and orchestra, Aiga-Faros, in 2014. He also often works with synthesizersand computers: his CD Oniris features his electronic music. Grégoire is also a baroque flutist, and performs regularly with Tafelmusik, as well as numerous other ensembles.


Bach Goldberg Variations
Grégoire Jeay
Goldberg Variations
Old Meets New
Toronto music
classical music
J.S Bach
baroque music
Elisa Citterio