Wednesday, April 20, 2011


On Sunday afternoon I had the absolute joy of watching a documentary about the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. To my shame, despite actually studying classical piano at university some years ago, I had not engaged with Gould's recordings much before. I was aware of his star power, the legends of his Bach recordings, but apart from that he had not been among the big, famous pianists that we were exposed in our piano classes or musicology sessions. Those were the pianists from a generation before - Ashkenzy, Horowitz, Richter, Rubinstein, Arrau, etc (you get the picture). Modern men like Gould, with his idiosyncratic interpretations of Bach and others were off the agenda. Now, some twenty years later I am disappointed it has taken me so long to hear the beauty of his playing. His articulation of Bach in particular is quite unusual but once you hear it you can't imagine why anyone would play it any other way. His personal life was a difficult one, perhaps, the documentary implied, because of autistic tendencies. He certainly was obsessive about his health, as the pages of hourly records of his blood pressure and notations about many other ailments demonstrate. He also made the unusual move of leaving the concert platform behind at a very young age (31) and focussed instead on recording, radio documentaries and exploring his philosophy of music and art. His commitment to these things was inspiring. The fact that he died of a stroke at the age of 50 in 1982 seems cruel. The music he made lives on. Here's a little taste:


2paw said...

Oh that was so lovely. I think I do not prefer orchestral classical music.

Wendy said...

I am rather choosy with what I like and don't like but this playing is very special :-)