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Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould

Overview
Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

. His playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.

Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 and shunned the music of several of its composers, notably Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

, and Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

The mental imagery involved with pianistic tactilia is not related to the striking of individual keys but rather to the rites of passage between notes.

review of Payzant, Glenn Gould Reader p445

The prerequisite of contrapuntal art, more conspicuous in the work of Johann Sebastian Bach|Bach than in that of any other composer, is an ability to conceive a priori of melodic identities which when transposed, inverted, made retrograde, or transformed rhythmically will yet exhibit, in conjunction with the original subject matter, some entirely new but completely harmonious profile.

"So You Want To Write A Fugue", Glenn Gould Reader p240

I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

attributed to Glenn Gould, 1962 in Payzant (Glenn Gould: Music and Mind), p64

I think that if I were required to spend the rest of my life on a desert island, and to listen to or play the music of any one composer during all that time, that composer would almost certainly be Bach. I really can't think of any other music which is so all-encompassing, which moves me so deeply and so consistently, and which, to use a rather imprecise word, is valuable beyond all of its skill and brilliance for something more meaningful than that -- its humanity.

Gramophone

I tend to follow a very nocturnal sort of existence mainly because I don't much care for sunlight. Bright colors of any kind depress me, in fact. And my moods are more or less inversely related to the clarity of the sky, on any given day. A matter of fact, my private motto has always been that behind every silver lining there is a cloud.

transcribed from The Life and Times of Glenn Gould
Encyclopedia
Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

. His playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.

Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 and shunned the music of several of its composers, notably Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

, and Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

. Although his recordings were dominated by Bach, Gould's oeuvre was diverse, including works by Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

, Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, pre-Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 composers such as Jan Sweelinck, and such 20th-century composers as Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

 and Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

. Gould was well known for various eccentricities, from his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard to aspects of his lifestyle and personal behavior. He stopped giving concerts at the age of 31 to concentrate on studio recording and other projects.

Gould was also known as a writer, composer, conductor, and broadcaster. He was a prolific contributor to musical journals, in which he discussed music theory and outlined his musical philosophy. His career as a composer was less distinguished; his output was minimal and many projects were left unfinished. There is evidence that, had he lived beyond 50, he intended to abandon the piano and devote the remainder of his career to conducting and other projects. As a broadcaster, Gould was prolific. His output ranged from television and radio broadcasts of studio performances to musique concrète
Musique concrète
Musique concrète is a form of electroacoustic music that utilises acousmatic sound as a compositional resource. The compositional material is not restricted to the inclusion of sounds derived from musical instruments or voices, nor to elements traditionally thought of as "musical"...

 radio documentaries about life in the Canadian wilderness.

Life


Glenn Herbert Gould was born at home in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 on September 25, 1932, to Russell Herbert ("Bert") Gold and Florence ("Flora") Emma Gold (née Grieg), Presbyterians
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

 of Scottish and English ancestry. His maternal grandfather was a cousin of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg
Edvard Hagerup Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt , and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.-Biography:Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in...

. The family's surname was changed to Gould informally around 1939 in order to avoid being mistaken for Jewish, given the prevailing anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 of prewar Toronto and the Gold surname's Jewish association. Gould had no Jewish ancestry, though he sometimes made jokes on the subject, like "When people ask me if I'm Jewish, I always tell them that I was Jewish during the war."


Gould's interest in music and his talent as a pianist became evident very early. Both his parents were musical, and his mother, especially, encouraged the infant Gould's early musical development. Before his birth, his mother planned for him to become a successful musician, and thus exposed him to music during her pregnancy. As a baby, he reportedly hummed instead of crying and wiggled his fingers as if playing chords, leading his doctor to predict that he would "be either a physician or a pianist". By the age of three, Gould's perfect pitch
Absolute pitch
Absolute pitch , widely referred to as perfect pitch, is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of an external reference.-Definition:...

 was noticed; he learned to read music before he could read words. When presented with a piano, the young Gould was reported to strike single notes and listen to their long decay, a practice his father Bert noted was different from typical children. Gould's interest in the piano proceeded side by side with an interest in composition; he would play his own little pieces for family, friends, and sometimes large gatherings, including, in 1938, a performance at the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (a few blocks from the Gould house) of one of his own compositions. At the age of six, he was taken for the first time to hear a live musical performance by a celebrated soloist; this left a tremendous impression. He later described the experience:
It was Hofmann. It was, I think, his last performance in Toronto, and it was a staggering impression. The only thing I can really remember is that, when I was being brought home in a car, I was in that wonderful state of half-awakeness in which you hear all sorts of incredible sounds going through your mind. They were all orchestral sounds, but I was playing them all, and suddenly I was Hofmann. I was enchanted.


As a young child, Gould was taught by his mother. He began attending The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he studied piano with Alberto Guerrero
Alberto Guerrero
Antonio Alberto García Guerrero was a Chilean-Canadian composer, pianist, and teacher. While he is most famously remembered as the mentor of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, Guerrero influenced several generations of musicians through his many years of teaching at the Toronto Conservatory of...

, organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

 with Frederick C. Silvester
Frederick C. Silvester
Frederick C. Silvester was an organist and composer. Silvester studied organ with C. Spencer Heap in England and, after moving in 1921 to Canada, with Lynnwood Farnam in Saskatoon. During his eight years there, he was organist at the First Baptist Church and Knox United Church...

, and music theory
Music theory
Music theory is the study of how music works. It examines the language and notation of music. It seeks to identify patterns and structures in composers' techniques across or within genres, styles, or historical periods...

 with Leo Smith, at the age of 10. Gould passed his final Conservatory examination in piano at the age of 12 (achieving the "highest marks of any candidate"), thus attaining "professional standing as a pianist" at that age. One year later he passed the written theory exams, qualifying for the ATCM diploma (Associate, Toronto Conservatory of Music).

In 1945, he gave his first public performance, playing the organ, and the following year he made his first appearance with an orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a Canadian orchestra based in Toronto, Ontario.-History:The TSO was founded in 1922 as the New Symphony Orchestra, and gave its first concert at Massey Hall in April 1923. The orchestra changed its name to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1927. The TSO...

, in a performance of the first movement of Beethoven's
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 4th Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 4 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, was composed in 1805–1806, although no autograph copy survives.-Musical forces and movements:...

. His first solo recital followed in 1947, and his first recital on radio was with the CBC
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

 in 1950. This was the beginning of his long association with radio and recording. He founded the Festival Trio chamber group in 1953 with the cellist Isaac Mamott and the violinist Albert Pratz
Albert Pratz
Albert Pratz was a Canadian violinist, conductor, composer, and music educator. He was awarded the Canadian Centennial Medal in 1967. His compositional output was modest and consists of only instrumental works...

.

In 1957, Gould embarked on a tour of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, becoming the first North American to play there since World War II. His concerts featured Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, and the serial music
Serialism
In music, serialism is a method or technique of composition that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as one example of...

 of Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

 and Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

, which had been suppressed in the Soviet Union during the era of Socialist Realism
Socialist realism
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art which was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism...

. Gould made his Boston debut in 1958, playing for the Peabody Mason Concert Series. One audience member was so moved that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Herald, commenting, "If I never hear Bach's Goldberg Variations
Goldberg Variations
The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, is a work for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach, consisting of an aria and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1741, the work is considered to be one of the most important examples of variation form...

 again, I feel with all my heart that I have heard the ultimate, and am grateful".

On April 10, 1964, Gould gave his last public performance, playing in Los Angeles, at the Wilshire Ebell Theater
Ebell of Los Angeles
The Ebell of Los Angeles is a women's club housed in a complex in the Mid-City section of Los Angeles that includes a clubhouse building and the renowned 1,270-seat Wilshire Ebell Theatre....

. Among the pieces he performed that night were Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 30
Piano Sonata No. 30 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, composed in 1820, is the antepenultimate of his piano sonatas. In it, after the huge Hammerklavier sonata, Op. 106, Beethoven returns to a smaller scale and a more intimate character...

, selections from Bach's The Art of Fugue
The Art of Fugue
The Art of Fugue , BWV 1080, is an incomplete work by Johann Sebastian Bach . It was most likely started at the beginning of the 1740s, if not earlier. The first known surviving version, which contained 12 fugues and 2 canons, was copied by the composer in 1745...

, and Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

's Piano Sonata No. 3. Gould performed fewer than 200 concerts over the course of his career, of which fewer than 40 were overseas. For pianists such as Van Cliburn
Van Cliburn
Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War....

, 200 concerts would have amounted to about two years' touring. For the rest of his life, Gould eschewed live performance, focusing instead on recording, writing, and broadcasting.

Later years


Towards the end of his life, Gould began conducting; he had earlier directed Bach's Brandenburg Concerto
Brandenburg concertos
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 . They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era...

 No. 5
and the cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

 Widerstehe doch der Sünde from the harpsipiano (a piano with metal hammers to simulate a harpsichord's sound), and Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

's Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 2 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, known as the Resurrection, was written between 1888 and 1894, and first performed in 1895. Apart from the Eighth Symphony, this symphony was Mahler's most popular and successful work during his lifetime. It is his first major work that would eventually mark his...

 (the Urlicht section) in the 1960s. His last recording was as a conductor of Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Siegfried Idyll
Siegfried Idyll
The Siegfried Idyll by Richard Wagner is a symphonic poem for chamber orchestra, lasting approximately twenty minutes.-Background:Wagner composed the Siegfried Idyll as a birthday present to his second wife, Cosima, after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869...

in its original chamber music
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

 scoring. He intended to give up the piano at the age of 50, spending later years conducting, writing about music, and composing. Gould's final piano recording was of Richard Strauss' Piano Sonata, op. 5, recorded in New York in 1982.

Death


On September 27, 1982, after experiencing a severe headache, Gould suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. He was admitted to Toronto General Hospital
Toronto General Hospital
The Toronto General Hospital , is a part of the University Health Network, and a major teaching hospital in downtown Toronto, Ontario. It is located in the Discovery District, directly north of the Hospital for Sick Children, across Gerrard Street West, and east of Princess Margaret Hospital and...

 and his condition rapidly deteriorated. By October 4, there was evidence of brain damage, and Gould's father decided that his son should be taken off life support. He is buried next to his parents in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto
Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a cemetery located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.In the early 19th century, the only authorized cemeteries within the city of Toronto were limited to the members of either the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England...

. The first few measures of the Goldberg Variations are carved on his marker.

Gould as a pianist


Gould was known for his vivid musical imagination, and listeners regarded his interpretations as ranging from brilliantly creative to, on occasion, outright eccentric. His piano playing had great clarity and erudition, particularly in contrapuntal
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 passages, and extraordinary control. He was considered a child prodigy
Child prodigy
A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, masters one or more skills far beyond his or her level of maturity. One criterion for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 18 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding...

, and in adulthood was also described as a musical phenomenon. As he played, he often swayed his torso in a clockwise motion.


When Gould was around ten years old, he injured his back as a result of a fall from a boat ramp on the shore of Lake Simcoe
Lake Simcoe
Lake Simcoe is a lake in Southern Ontario, Canada, the fourth-largest lake wholly in the province, after Lake Nipigon, Lac Seul, and Lake Nipissing. At the time of the first European contact in the 17th century the lake was called Ouentironk by the Huron natives...

. This incident is almost certainly related to his father's subsequent construction for him of an adjustable-height chair, which he used for the rest of his life. This famous chair was designed so that Gould could sit very low at the keyboard, with the object of pulling down on the keys rather than striking them from above – a central technical idea of his teacher, Alberto Guerrero. Gould's mother urged the young Gould to sit up straight at the keyboard.

Gould developed a formidable technique. It enabled him to choose very fast tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

s while retaining the separateness and clarity of each note. His extremely low position at the instrument arguably permitted more control over the keyboard. Gould showed considerable technical skill in performing and recording a wide repertoire including virtuosic and romantic works, such as his own arrangement of Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

's La valse
La Valse
La valse, un poème choréographique pour orchestre , is a work written by Maurice Ravel from February 1919 until 1920 ; it was conceived as a ballet but is now more often heard as a concert work...

and Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

's transcriptions of Beethoven's fifth
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

 and sixth
Symphony No. 6 (Beethoven)
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony , is a symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and was completed in 1808...

 symphonies. Gould worked from a young age with his teacher Alberto Guerrero
Alberto Guerrero
Antonio Alberto García Guerrero was a Chilean-Canadian composer, pianist, and teacher. While he is most famously remembered as the mentor of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, Guerrero influenced several generations of musicians through his many years of teaching at the Toronto Conservatory of...

 on a technique known as finger-tapping
Finger tapping (piano)
Finger tapping is a piano technique developed by Alberto Guerrero for his pupil Glenn Gould. According to Guerrero, the idea for the technique came from a circus show with an extremely flexible young boy.- Technique :...

: a method of training the fingers to act more independently from the arm.

Gould claimed he almost never practised on the piano, preferring to study music by reading it rather than playing it, another technique he had learned from Guerrero. His manual practising focused on articulation, rather than basic facility. He may have spoken ironically about his practising, but there is evidence that on occasion, he did practise quite hard, sometimes using his own drills and techniques.

He stated that he didn't understand the requirement of other pianists to continuously reinforce their relationship with the instrument by practising many hours a day. It seems that Gould was able to practise mentally without access to an instrument, and even took this so far as to prepare for a recording of Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

 piano works without ever playing them until a few weeks before the recording sessions. This is all the more staggering considering the absolute accuracy and phenomenal dexterity exhibited in his playing. Gould's large repertoire also demonstrated this natural mnemonic
Mnemonic
A mnemonic , or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. Commonly encountered mnemonics are often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something,...

 gift.

The piano, Gould said, "is not an instrument for which I have any great love as such... [but] I have played it all my life, and it is the best vehicle I have to express my ideas." In the case of Bach, Gould admitted, "[I] fixed the action
Action (music)
The term action, used in connection with stringed instruments, has two meanings, depending on whether the instrument is played with a keyboard or plucked by hand.-In keyboard instruments:...

 in some of the instruments I play on—and the piano I use for all recordings is now so fixed—so that it is a shallower and more responsive action than the standard. It tends to have a mechanism which is rather like an automobile without power steering: you are in control and not it; it doesn't drive you, you drive it. This is the secret of doing Bach on the piano at all. You must have that immediacy of response, that control over fine definitions of things."

Of significant influence upon the teenage Gould were Artur Schnabel
Artur Schnabel
Artur Schnabel was an Austrian classical pianist, who also composed and taught. Schnabel was known for his intellectual seriousness as a musician, avoiding pure technical bravura...

 (Gould: "The piano was a means to an end for him, and the end was to approach Beethoven"); Rosalyn Tureck
Rosalyn Tureck
Rosalyn Tureck was an American pianist and harpsichordist who was particularly associated with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach...

's recordings of Bach ("upright, with a sense of repose and positiveness"); and Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Anthony Stokowski was a British-born, naturalised American orchestral conductor, well known for his free-hand performing style that spurned the traditional baton and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from many of the great orchestras he conducted.In America, Stokowski...

.

Gould had a pronounced aversion to what he termed a "hedonistic" approach to the piano repertoire, performance, and music generally. For Gould, "hedonism" in this sense denoted a superficial theatricality, something to which he felt Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, for example, became increasingly susceptible later in his career. He associated this drift towards hedonism with the emergence of a cult of showmanship and gratuitous virtuosity on the concert platform in the 19th century and later. The institution of the public concert, he felt, degenerated into the "blood sport" with which he struggled, and which he ultimately rejected.

Recordings and compositions


In creating music, Gould much preferred the control and intimacy provided by the recording studio; he disliked the concert hall, which he compared to a competitive sporting arena. After his final public performance in 1964, he devoted his career solely to the studio, recording albums and several radio documentaries
Radio documentary
A radio documentary or feature is a purely acoustic performance devoted to covering a particular topic in some depth, usually with a mixture of commentary and sound pictures. It is broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD...

. He was attracted to the technical aspects of recording, and considered the manipulation of tape to be another part of the creative process. Although Gould's recording studio producers have testified that 'he needed splicing
Overdubbing
Overdubbing is a technique used by recording studios to add a supplementary recorded sound to a previously recorded performance....

, less than most performers', Gould used the process to give him total artistic control
Artistic control
Artistic control or Creative Control is a term commonly used in media production, such as movies, television, and music production. A person with artistic control has the authority to decide how the final product will appear. In movies, this commonly refers to the authority to decide on the final...

 over the recording process. He recounted his recording of the A minor fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier
The Well-Tempered Clavier
The Well-Tempered Clavier , BWV 846–893, is a collection of solo keyboard music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach...

and how it was spliced together from two takes, with the fugue's expositions from one take and its episodes from another.

Following his first recording (of the Berg Sonata, Op. 1, on the Canadian Hallmark label, ca. 1952), the pianist's first resounding commercial success, Bach: The Goldberg Variations
The Goldberg Variations (Gould album)
Bach: The Goldberg Variations is the 1955 debut album of the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould. An interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations , the work launched Gould's career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings...

, came in 1955, at Columbia Records 30th Street Studios
CBS 30th Street Studio
CBS 30th Street Studio, also known as Columbia 30th Street Studio, and nicknamed "The Church", was an American recording studio operated by Columbia Records from 1949 to 1981 located at 207 East 30th Street, between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, New York City...

 in New York City. Although there was initially some controversy at CBS as to whether this was the most appropriate piece to record, the finished product received phenomenal praise and was among the best-selling classical music albums of its time. Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many of his recitals. Another version of the Goldberg Variations, recorded in 1981, would be among his last recordings, and one of only a few pieces he recorded twice in the studio. The 1981 recording was one of CBS Masterworks' first digital recording
Digital recording
In digital recording, digital audio and digital video is directly recorded to a storage device as a stream of discrete numbers, representing the changes in air pressure for audio and chroma and luminance values for video through time, thus making an abstract template for the original sound or...

s. The two recordings are very different: the first, highly energetic and often frenetic; the second, slower and more introspective. In the latter, Gould treats the aria and its 30 variations as one cohesive piece.

Gould revered Bach: "[he was] first and last an architect, a constructor of sound, and what makes him so inestimably valuable to us is that he was beyond a doubt the greatest architect of sound who ever lived". He recorded most of Bach's other keyboard works, including the complete Well-Tempered Clavier, Partitas, French Suites, English Suites, and keyboard concertos. For his only recording at the organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

, he recorded about half of The Art of Fugue
The Art of Fugue
The Art of Fugue , BWV 1080, is an incomplete work by Johann Sebastian Bach . It was most likely started at the beginning of the 1740s, if not earlier. The first known surviving version, which contained 12 fugues and 2 canons, was copied by the composer in 1745...

. He also recorded all five of Beethoven's piano concertos and 23 of the 32 piano sonatas.

Gould also recorded works by Brahms, Mozart, and many other prominent piano composers, though he was outspoken in his criticism of some of them. He was extremely critical of Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

. In a radio interview, when asked if he didn't find himself wanting to play Chopin, he replied: "No, I don't. I play it in a weak moment – maybe once a year or twice a year for myself. But it doesn't convince me." Although Gould recorded all of Mozart's sonatas and admitted enjoying the "actual playing" of them, he claimed to dislike Mozart's later works, to the extent of arguing (perhaps facetiously) that Mozart died too late rather than too early. He was fond of many lesser-known composers, such as Orlando Gibbons
Orlando Gibbons
Orlando Gibbons was an English composer, virginalist and organist of the late Tudor and early Jacobean periods...

, whose Anthems he had heard as a teenager, and for whose music he felt a "spiritual attachment". He recorded a number of Gibbons's keyboard works and nominated him as his all-time favourite composer, despite his better-known admiration for the technical mastery of Bach. He made recordings of piano music little-known in North America, including music by Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

 (the Sonatines and Kyllikki); Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet formally Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer, mainly of operas. In a career cut short by his early death, he achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, became one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory.During a...

 (the Variations Chromatiques de Concert and the Premier nocturne); Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 (the Piano Sonata, the Five Pieces, and Enoch Arden
Enoch Arden (Strauss)
Enoch Arden, Op. 38, TrV. 181, is a melodrama for narrator and piano, written in 1897 by Richard Strauss to the words of the 1864 poem of the same name by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.-History:...

with Claude Rains
Claude Rains
Claude Rains was an English stage and film actor whose career spanned 66 years. He was known for many roles in Hollywood films, among them the title role in The Invisible Man , a corrupt senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , Mr...

); and Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

 (the three piano sonatas and the sonatas for brass and piano). He also made recordings of the complete piano works and Lieder of Arnold Schoenberg.

One of Gould's performances of the Prelude and Fugue in C major from Book II of The Well-Tempered Clavier was chosen for inclusion on the NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

 by a committee headed by Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

. The disc of recordings was placed on the spacecraft Voyager 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

, which is now approaching interstellar space
Interstellar medium
In astronomy, the interstellar medium is the matter that exists in the space between the star systems in a galaxy. This matter includes gas in ionic, atomic, and molecular form, dust, and cosmic rays. It fills interstellar space and blends smoothly into the surrounding intergalactic space...

 and is the farthest human-made object from Earth.

Arrangements and compositions


Gould was not only a composer, but also a prolific arranger of orchestral repertoire for piano. His arrangements include his recorded Wagner and Ravel transcriptions, as well as the operas of Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 and the symphonies of Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

 and Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

, which he played privately for pleasure.

As a teenager, Gould wrote chamber music and piano works in the style of the Second Viennese school
Second Viennese School
The Second Viennese School is the group of composers that comprised Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils and close associates in early 20th century Vienna, where he lived and taught, sporadically, between 1903 and 1925...

 of composition. His only significant work was the String Quartet, Op. 1, which he finished when he was in his 20s, and perhaps his cadenza
Cadenza
In music, a cadenza is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing for virtuosic display....

s to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, op. 15, was written during 1796 and 1797. The first performance was in Prague in 1798, with Beethoven himself playing the piano, dedicated to his student Babette Countess Keglevics....

. Later works include the Lieberson Madrigal (SATB
SATB
In music, SATB is an initialism for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, defining the voices required by a chorus or choir to perform a particular musical work...

 and piano), and So You Want to Write a Fugue? (SATB
SATB
In music, SATB is an initialism for soprano, alto, tenor, bass, defining the voices required by a chorus or choir to perform a particular musical work...

 with piano or string quartet accompaniment). The majority of his work is published by Schott Music
Schott Music
Schott Music is one of the oldest German music publishers. It is also one of the largest music publishing houses in Europe and is currently the second oldest music publishing house. The company headquarters of Schott Music was founded by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, Germany in 1770.Established in...

. The recording Glenn Gould: The Composer contains his original works.

The String Quartet Op. 1 (published in 1956 and recorded in 1960) had a mixed reception from critics. For example, the notices from the Christian Science Monitor and The Saturday Review were quite laudatory, while the response from the Montreal Star
Montreal Star
The Montreal Star was an English-language Canadian newspaper published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It folded in 1979 following an eight-month pressmen's strike....

was less so. There is little critical commentary on Gould's compositional work for the simple reason that there are few compositions; he did not proceed beyond Opus 1. Gould left many compositions unfinished; he attributed his failure as a composer to his lack of a "personal voice". See List of compositions by Glenn Gould for a complete list of works.

Collaborations


The success of Gould's collaborations with other artists was to a degree dependent upon their receptiveness to his sometimes unconventional readings of the music. His television collaboration with Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM, KBE was a Russian Jewish American violinist and conductor who spent most of his performing career in the United Kingdom. He was born to Russian Jewish parents in the United States, but became a citizen of Switzerland in 1970, and of the United Kingdom in 1985...

 in 1965, recording works by Bach, Beethoven and Schoenberg, was deemed a success because "Menuhin was ready to embrace the new perspective opened up by an unorthodox view." In 1966, his collaboration with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, DBE was a German-born Austrian/British soprano opera singer and recitalist. She was among the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, much admired for her performances of Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, and Wolf.-Early life:Olga Maria Elisabeth Friederike...

, however, recording Richard Strauss's Ophelia Lieder, op. 67, was deemed an "outright fiasco". Schwarzkopf believed in "total fidelity" to the score, but she also objected to the thermal conditions in the recording studio: "The studio was incredibly overheated, which may be good for a pianist but not for a singer: a dry throat is the end as far as singing is concerned. But we persevered nonetheless. It wasn't easy for me. Gould began by improvising something Straussian—we thought he was simply warming up, but no, he continued to play like that throughout the actual recordings, as though Strauss's notes were just a pretext that allowed him to improvise freely...."

Radio documentaries


Less well-known is Gould's work in radio. This work was, in part, the result of Gould's long association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

, for which he produced numerous television and radio programs. Notable recordings include his music-concrète Solitude Trilogy
Solitude Trilogy
The Solitude Trilogy is a collection of three hour-long radio documentaries produced by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and a film collaboration between the CBC and PBS...

, which consists of The Idea of North, a meditation on Northern Canada and its people; The Latecomers, about Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

; and The Quiet in the Land, on Mennonite
Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

s in Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

. All three use a radiophonic electronic-music technique that Gould called contrapuntal radio, in which several people are heard speaking at once—much like the voices in a fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

—manipulated through the use of tape. Gould's experience of driving across northern Ontario while listening to Top 40 radio in 1967 provided the inspiration for one of his most unusual CBC radio pieces, "The Search for Petula Clark
Petula Clark
Petula Clark, CBE is an English singer, actress, and composer whose career has spanned seven decades.Clark's professional career began as an entertainer on BBC Radio during World War II...

", a witty and eloquent dissertation on the recordings of the renowned British pop singer, who was then at the peak of her international success.

Character and personal life



Eccentricities


Gould is widely known for his unusual habits. He usually hummed while he played the piano, and his recording engineers had mixed results in how successfully they were able to exclude his voice from recordings. Gould claimed that his singing was subconscious and increased proportionately with the inability of the piano in question to realize the music as he intended. It is likely that this habit originated in Gould's having been taught by his mother to "sing everything that he played", as Kevin Bazzana puts it. This became "an unbreakable (and notorious) habit". Some of Gould's recordings were severely criticised because of the background "vocalise". For example, a reviewer of his 1981 re-recording of the Goldberg Variations opined that many listeners would "find the groans and croons intolerable".

Gould was renowned for his peculiar body movements while playing and for his insistence on absolute control over every aspect of his playing environment. The temperature of the recording studio had to be exactly regulated; he invariably insisted that it be extremely warm. According to Friedrich, the air conditioning engineer had to work just as hard as the recording engineers. The piano had to be set at a certain height and would be raised on wooden blocks if necessary. A small rug would sometimes be required for his feet underneath the piano. He had to sit fourteen inches above the floor and would play concerts only while sitting on the old chair his father had made. He continued to use this chair even when the seat was completely worn through. His chair is so closely identified with him that it is shown in a place of honor in a glass case at the National Library of Canada.

Conductors responded diversely to Gould and his playing habits. George Szell
George Szell
George Szell , originally György Széll, György Endre Szél, or Georg Szell, was a Hungarian-born American conductor and composer...

, who led Gould in 1957 with the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

, remarked to his assistant, "That nut's a genius." Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

 said, "There is nobody quite like him, and I just love playing with him." Ironically, Bernstein created a stir
New York Philharmonic concert of April 6, 1962
The New York Philharmonic concert of April 6, 1962, is widely regarded as one of the most controversial in the orchestra's history. It featured a performance by Glenn Gould of the First Piano Concerto of Johannes Brahms, with the orchestra led by its music director, Leonard Bernstein...

 in April 1962 when, just before the New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 was to perform the Brahms D minor piano concerto with Gould as soloist, he informed the audience that he was assuming no responsibility for what they were about to hear. Specifically, he was referring to Gould's insistence that the entire first movement be played at half the indicated tempo. Plans for a studio recording of the performance came to nothing; the live radio broadcast (along with Bernstein's disclaimer) was subsequently released on CD.

Gould was averse to cold, and wore heavy clothing (including gloves), even in warm places. He was once arrested, presumably mistaken for a vagrant, while sitting on a park bench in Sarasota, Florida, dressed in his standard all-climate attire of coat(s), warm hat, and mittens. He also disliked social functions. He hated being touched, and in later life he limited personal contact, relying on the telephone and letters for communication. Upon one visit to historic Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall is the name of buildings housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway & Sons pianos. The first Steinway Hall was opened 1866 in New York City. Today, Steinway Halls and Steinway-Häuser are located in world cities such as New York City, London, Hamburg, Berlin,...

 in New York City in 1959, the chief piano technician at the time, William Hupfer, greeted Gould by giving him a slap on the back. Gould was shocked by this, and complained of aching, lack of coordination, and fatigue because of the incident; he even went on to explore the possibility of litigation against Steinway & Sons
Steinway & Sons
Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway , is an American and German manufacturer of handmade pianos, founded 1853 in Manhattan in New York City by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg...

 if his apparent injuries were permanent. He was known for cancelling performances at the last minute, which is why Bernstein's above-mentioned public disclaimer opens with, "Don't be frightened, Mr. Gould is here; will appear in a moment."

In his liner notes and broadcasts, Gould created more than two dozen alter ego
Alter ego
An alter ego is a second self, which is believe to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. The term was coined in the early nineteenth century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists...

s for satirical, humorous, or didactic purposes, permitting him to write hostile reviews or incomprehensible commentaries on his own performances. Probably the best-known are the German musicologist "Karlheinz Klopweisser", the English conductor "Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite", and the American critic "Theodore Slutz". These facets of Gould, whether interpreted as neurosis
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

 or "play
Play (activity)
Play is a term employed in ethology and psychology to describe to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment...

", have provided ample material for psychobiography
Psychobiography
Psychobiography aims to understand historically significant individuals such as artists, political leaders, and so on, through the application of psychological theory and research...

.

Fran's Restaurant
Fran's Restaurant, Toronto
Fran's Restaurant is a restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was once part of a chain known chiefly for one of its branches being a haunt of pianist Glenn Gould....

 in Toronto was a regular haunt of Gould's. A CBC
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

 profile noted, "sometime between two and three every morning, Gould would go to Fran's, a 24-hour diner a block away from his Toronto apartment, sit in the same booth, and order the same meal of scrambled eggs."

It has been debated whether or not Gould was autistic, or, more accurately, if his mind fell within the autism spectrum
Autism spectrum
The term "autism spectrum" is often used to describe disorders that are currently classified as pervasive developmental disorders. Pervasive developmental disorders include autism, Asperger syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise...

. The diagnosis was first suggested by psychiatrist Peter Ostwald, a friend of Gould's, in a 1998 book, Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius. It has been disputed by, among others, Kevin Bazzana
Kevin Bazzana
Kevin Bazzana is a Canadian music historian and biographer, best known for his works on the influential Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Bazzana currently lives in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia...

.

Health


Gould suffered many pains and ailments, though he was something of a hypochondriac (admitting it himself on at least one occasion), and his autopsy revealed few underlying problems in areas that often troubled him. Early in his life, Gould suffered a spine injury. His physicians prescribed, usually independently, an assortment of analgesic
Analgesic
An analgesic is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain . The word analgesic derives from Greek an- and algos ....

s, anxiolytic
Anxiolytic
An anxiolytic is a drug used for the treatment of anxiety, and its related psychological and physical symptoms...

s, and other drugs. Some speculate that his extensive use of prescription medications throughout his career had a deleterious effect on his health.

He was highly concerned about his health throughout his life, worrying about everything from high blood pressure (which in his later years he recorded in diary form) to the safety of his hands. Gould rarely shook hands with anyone and usually wore gloves.

Relationships


Gould lived a private life: Bruno Monsaingeon
Bruno Monsaingeon
Bruno Monsaingeon is a French filmmaker, writer, and violinist. He has made a number of documentary films about great twentieth-century musicians, including Glenn Gould, Sviatoslav Richter, David Oistrakh, Piotr Anderszewski and Yehudi Menuhin. His interviews with Richter and with Nadia Boulanger...

 said of him, "No supreme pianist has ever given of his heart and mind so overwhelmingly while showing himself so sparingly."

In 2007, Cornelia Foss, wife of composer and conductor Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss was a German-born American composer, conductor, and pianist.-Music career:He was born Lukas Fuchs in Berlin, Germany in 1922. His father was the philosopher and scholar Martin Fuchs...

, publicly claimed that she and Gould had had a love affair lasting several years. She and her husband had met Gould in Los Angeles in 1956. Cornelia was an art instructor who had studied sculpture at the American Academy in Rome; Lukas was a pianist and composer who conducted both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic
Brooklyn Philharmonic
The Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, commonly known as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, is an American orchestra based in the borough of Brooklyn, in New York City...

.

After several years, Glenn and Cornelia became lovers. Cornelia left Lukas in 1967 for Gould, taking her two children with her to Toronto, where she purchased a house near Gould's apartment, at 110 St. Clair Avenue West. According to Cornelia, "There were a lot of misconceptions about Glenn, and it was partly because he was so very private. But I assure you, he was an extremely heterosexual man. Our relationship was, among other things, quite sexual." Their affair lasted until 1972, when she returned to Lukas. As early as two weeks after leaving her husband, she had noticed disturbing signs in Gould. She describes a serious paranoid episode:

Philosophical and aesthetic views


Gould said that if he had not been a musician, he would have been a writer. He expounded his criticism and philosophy of music and art in lectures, convocation speeches, periodicals, and radio and television documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Gould participated in many interviews, and had a predilection for scripting them to the extent that they may be seen as much as "works" as off-the-cuff discussions. His writing style was highly articulate but sometimes florid, indulgent, or rhetorical. This is especially evident in those works in which he attempts humour or irony, which he did often.

In these he praised certain composers and rejected what he deemed banal in music composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

 and its consumption by the public, and also gave insightful analyses of the music of Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

 and Anton Webern
Anton Webern
Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

. Despite a certain affection for Dixieland
Dixieland
Dixieland music, sometimes referred to as Hot jazz, Early Jazz or New Orleans jazz, is a style of jazz music which developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, and was spread to Chicago and New York City by New Orleans bands in the 1910s.Well-known jazz standard songs from the...

 jazz, Gould was mostly averse to popular music. He enjoyed a jazz concert with his friends as a youth, mentioned jazz in his writings, and once criticized The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 for "bad voice leading
Voice leading
In musical composition, voice leading is the term used to refer to a decision-making consideration when arranging voices , namely, how each voice should move in advancing from each chord to the next.- Details :...

"—while praising Petula Clark
Petula Clark
Petula Clark, CBE is an English singer, actress, and composer whose career has spanned seven decades.Clark's professional career began as an entertainer on BBC Radio during World War II...

 and Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

. He shared a mutual admiration with jazz pianist Bill Evans
Bill Evans
William John Evans, known as Bill Evans was an American jazz pianist. His use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists including: Chick Corea, Herbie...

, who made his seminal record Conversations with Myself
Conversations with Myself
Conversations with Myself is a 1963 album by American jazz musician Bill Evans.-History:Recorded at three different studio sessions on February 6 and 9, and May 20, 1963, Evans recorded the album using the then controversial method of overdubbing three different yet corresponding piano tracks for...

using Gould's celebrated Steinway CD 318 piano. Gould believed that "the piano is a contrapuntal instrument," and his whole approach to music was, in fact, centered in the Baroque. Much of the homophony
Homophony
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...

 that followed he felt belongs to a less serious and less spiritual period of art.

On performance


Gould was convinced that the institution of the public concert was not only an anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

, but also a "force of evil", leading to his retirement from concert performance. He argued that public performance devolved into a sort of competition, with a non-empathetic audience (musically and otherwise) mostly attendant to the possibility of the performer erring or not meeting critical expectation. This doctrine he set forth, only half in jest, in "GPAADAK", the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds.

One of Gould's reasons for abandoning live performance was his aesthetic preference for the recording studio, where, in his words, he developed a "love affair with the microphone". There, he could control every aspect of the final musical "product" by selecting parts of various take
Take
A take is a single continuous recorded performance. The term is used in film and music to denote and track the stages of production.-Film:In cinematography, a take refers to each filmed "version" of a particular shot or "setup"...

s. He felt that he could realize a musical score more fully this way. Thus, the act of musical composition, to Gould, did not entirely end with the original score; the performer had to make creative choices, and Gould felt strongly that there was little point in re-recording centuries-old pieces if the performer had no new perspective to bring to the work.

Technology and authenticity


The issue of "authenticity" in relation to an approach like Gould's has been a topic of great debate, although diminished by the end of the 20th century—a development that Gould seems to have anticipated. It asks whether a recording is less authentic or "direct" for having been highly refined by technical means in the studio. Gould likened his process to that of a film director—one does not perceive that a two-hour film was made in two hours—and implicitly asks why the act of listening to music should be any different. He went so far as to conduct an "experiment" with musicians, sound engineers, and laypeople in which they were to listen to a recording and determine where the splices occurred. Each group chose different points based on their relationship to music, but none successfully. While the conclusion was hardly scientific, Gould remarked, "The tape does lie, and nearly always gets away with it".

In a lecture and essay titled "Forgery and Imitation in the Creative Process", one of Gould's most significant texts, he makes explicit his views on authenticity and creativity. Gould asks why the epoch in which a work is received influences its reception as "art", postulating a sonata he composes that sounds so much like Haydn that it is received as such. If, instead, the same sonata had been attributed to a somewhat earlier or later composer, it becomes more or less interesting as a piece of music. Yet it is not the work that has changed but its relation within the accepted narrative of music history
Music history
Music history, sometimes called historical musicology, is the highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies the composition, performance, reception, and criticism of music over time...

. Similarly, Gould notes the "pathetic duplicity" in the reception of high-quality forgeries by Hans van Meegeren of new paintings attributed to Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age painting
Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War for Dutch independence. The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and led European trade,...

 master Vermeer, before and after the forgery was known.

Gould, therefore, prefers an ahistorical, or at least pre-Renaissance, view of art, minimizing the identity of the artist and the attendant historical context in evaluating the artwork: "What gives us the right to assume that in the work of art we must receive a direct communication with the historical attitudes of another period? ... moreover, what makes us assume that the situation of the man who wrote it accurately or faithfully reflects the situation of his time? ... What if the composer, as historian, is faulty?"

"The Last Puritan"


A 1962 quote is often used to summarize Gould's perspective on art: "The justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity."

Gould referred to himself repeatedly as "the last puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

", a reference to philosopher George Santayana
George Santayana
George Santayana was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States and identified himself as an American. He wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters...

's novel of the same name
The Last Puritan
The Last Puritan: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel was written by the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana. The novel is set largely in the fictional town of Great Falls, Connecticut; Boston; and England, in and around Oxford. It relates the life of Oliver Alden, the descendant of an old...

. Weighing this statement against Gould's highly individualistic lifestyle and artistic vision leads to an apparent contradiction.
He was progressive in many ways, promulgating the controversial atonal composers, and anticipating, through his deep involvement with the recording process, the vast changes that technology would have on the production and distribution of music. Mark Kingwell summarizes the paradox, never resolved by Gould nor his biographers:

He was progressive and anti-progressive at once, and likewise at once both a critic of the Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age."Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.The...

and its most interesting expression. He was, in effect, stranded on a beachhead of his own thinking between past and future. That he was not able, by himself, to fashion a bridge between them is neither surprising, nor, in the end, disappointing. We should see this failure, rather, as an aspect of his genius. He both was and was not a man of his time.

Legacy


Gould is one of the most acclaimed 20th-century classical musicians. His unique pianistic method, insight into the architecture of compositions, and relatively free interpretation of scores created performances and recordings that were revelatory to many listeners while highly objectionable to others. Philosopher Mark Kingwell
Mark Kingwell
Mark Gerald Kingwell, M.Litt, M.Phil, PhD, D.F.A. is a Canadian professor of philosophy and associate chair at the University of Toronto's Department of Philosophy. Kingwell is a fellow of Trinity College...

 writes that "his influence is made inescapable; no performer after him can avoid the example he sets... Now, everyone must perform through him: he can be emulated or rejected, but he cannot be ignored."

Gould left an extensive body of work beyond the keyboard. After his retirement from concert performance, he was increasingly interested in other media, including audio and film documentary and writing, through which he mused on aesthetics, composition, music history, and the effect of the electronic age on the consumption of media. (Gould grew up in Toronto at the same time that Canadian theorists Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist...

, Northrop Frye
Northrop Frye
Herman Northrop Frye, was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century....

, and Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

 were making their mark on communications studies.) Anthologies of his writing and letters have been published. The National Library of Canada retains an archive called the Glenn Gould Fonds.

Gould is a popular subject of biography and even critical analysis. Philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben
Giorgio Agamben
Giorgio Agamben is an Italian political philosopher best known for his work investigating the concepts of the state of exception and homo sacer....

 and Mark Kingwell have interpreted Gould's life and ideas. References to Gould and his work are plentiful in the visual arts, fiction, and poetry.

Awards and recognition


Glenn Gould received many honors before and after his death, although he personally claimed to despise competition in music. In 1983, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame
Canadian Music Hall of Fame
The Canadian Music Hall of Fame honors Canadian musicians for their lifetime achievements in music. The ceremony is held each year as part of the Juno Award ceremonies. Members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame represent many of the world's great talents...

.
  • The Glenn Gould Foundation was established in Toronto in 1983 to honour Gould and preserve his memory. Among other activities, the foundation awards the Glenn Gould Prize
    Glenn Gould Prize
    The Glenn Gould Prize is an international award bestowed by the Glenn Gould Foundation in memory of noted Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. It is awarded every third year to a living individual in recognition of his/her contributions to music and communication....

     every three years to "an individual who has earned international recognition as the result of a highly exceptional contribution to music and its communication, through the use of any communications technologies." The prize consists of CAD$50,000 and an original work by a Canadian artist.
  • The Glenn Gould School
    The Glenn Gould School
    The Glenn Gould School is a centre for the training of professional musicians in performance at post-secondary and post-bachelor levels. It was named for the celebrated pianist, who was born in Toronto and lived most of his life in the city....

     of The Royal Conservatory of Music was founded and named after him in 1997.
  • The Glenn Gould Studio at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre
    Canadian Broadcasting Centre
    The Canadian Broadcasting Centre, located in Toronto, Ontario, is the broadcast headquarters and master control point for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's English-language television and radio services...

     in Toronto was named after him.


Gould won four Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s:
  • 1974
    Grammy Awards of 1974
    The 16th Grammy Awards were held March 2, 1974, and were broadcast live on American television. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the year 1973.- Award winners :* Record of the Year...

     – Grammy Award for Best Album Notes – Classical: Glenn Gould (notes writer), for Hindemith
    Paul Hindemith
    Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

    : Sonatas for Piano (Complete)
    performed by Glenn Gould;
  • 1983
    Grammy Awards of 1983
    The 25th Grammy Awards were held February 23, 1983. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.-Awards:*Record of the Year**Toto for "Rosanna"*Album of the Year**Toto for Toto IV...

     – Grammy Award for Best Classical Album
    Grammy Award for Best Classical Album
    The Grammy Award for Best Classical Album was awarded from 1962 to 2011. The award had several minor name changes:*From 1962 to 1963, 1965 to 1972 and 1974 to 1976 the award was known as Album of the Year - Classical...

    : Samuel H. Carter (producer) & Glenn Gould, for Bach: The Goldberg Variations;
  • 1983
    Grammy Awards of 1983
    The 25th Grammy Awards were held February 23, 1983. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.-Awards:*Record of the Year**Toto for "Rosanna"*Album of the Year**Toto for Toto IV...

     – Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra)
    Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra)
    The Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance was awarded from 1959 to 2011. From 1967 to 1971 and in 1987 the award was combined with the award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance and awarded as the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist or...

    , for Bach: The Goldberg Variations;
  • 1984
    Grammy Awards of 1984
    The 26th Grammy Awards were held on February 28, 1984, and were broadcast live on American television. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the year 1983...

     – Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra)
    Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra)
    The Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance was awarded from 1959 to 2011. From 1967 to 1971 and in 1987 the award was combined with the award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance and awarded as the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist or...

    , for Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 12 & 13.

See also



External links





Sound

Video