The Extraordinary Glenn Gould

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Glenn Herbert Gould (born Gold), pianist, broadcaster, writer, composer, conductor, organist (born 25 September 1932 in Toronto, ON; died 4 October 1982 in Toronto, ON).

As a child I asked if I could learn to play the piano. I was told I couldn’t because we didn’t have a piano. I was clever enough to say I could practice at school, but my protests were ignored. BUT! Enough of me! Glenn Gould lived in my neighbourhood for the latter years of his life. He haunted the 24 hour Fran’s Restaurant not far from his penthouse apartment. There is a plaque on the lawn. I can’t help but wonder if his spirit still walks those rooms. Those rooms where he sought refuge from the outside world. Such a complex character who’s only real refuge, in my mind, was the music. ©J.E.Goldie

Details from The Canadian Encyclopedia:

During his concert days, Gould noted that European critics wrote about his interpretations, while those in North America wrote more about his eccentricities. In his later years, a growing Gould legend was fed by reports of his personal eccentricities and lifestyle. He lived modestly and alone (he never married), guarded his private life jealously, refused to make public appearances of any kind and rarely left Toronto (especially after 1970, when he moved his recording operations there). In recent years, information regarding Gould’s discreet romantic relationships have come to light, most notably his five-year affair (beginning in 1967) with the painter Cornelia Foss, wife of the American composer Lukas Foss, who left her husband and moved with her children to Toronto for several years to live near Gould.

 

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Broadcasting and Recording Career, 1964–82

While Gould’s live concert career wound down, his radio and TV recitals and documentaries were becoming more innovative and sophisticated as he explored beyond the limits of the conventional broadcast recital. In the early 1960s, he began giving radio and TV recitals that were unified thematically or tied together with his own spoken commentary. He also became prolific as a writer, exploring many musical and non-musical topics in liner notes, periodical articles, reviews, scripts and interviews.

As he approached age 50, Gould was planning to phase out his career as a recording pianist while fulfilling ambitious plans to make recordings as a conductor. He made his first and only official recording as a conductor (Wagner’s Siegfried-Idyll) in the summer of 1982. He also arranged music for the feature film The Wars (1983).

Gould planned to stop recording altogether around 1985, and devoted himself to writing and composing. However, on 27 September 1982, a few days after his 50th birthday, and approximately a week after the release of a best-selling second recording of the Goldberg Variations, he suffered a massive stroke and died on 4 October 1982.

THE INTERVIEWS and THE MUSIC

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Jen Goldie

"Life is made up of small comings and goings and for everything we take with us, we leave a part of ourselves behind" - Summer of 42

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