Thursday, January 31, 2008

Glenn Gould - A True Original

It's known, of course, that the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, in a relatively short life, was veritably Mozart - like in his brilliance, both as a performer and as one of the deep thinkers of the art. Many continue to assert that his playing of Bach is the most important contribution of the composer's keyboard music in the history of recording.
Another facet of his entity is, shall we say, the level of eccentricity.
To cite: He drove the sound engineers at Columbia Records virtually insane because of his insisting that he use his beloved bench (or stool; I know not which) in his recordings. The problem was that the bench squeaked, and rather loudly. In the earlier recordings, especially; his magic music-making was complemented by the incessant squeak of his beloved supporter, and it was quite some time before the squeak was eradicated from the recordings.
Another fly in the engineers' ointment was that Gould constantly sang as he performed, and the accepted view that the great musician, anointed with such a great internal ear, would, if necessary, always sing in tune; sadly, that was not the case with Gould, as some records attest to the reality that the note that Gould played would not always match the note that Gould would sing.
Eventually, that aspect was pretty well overcome, but be assured that one can purchase Gould recordings with the immortal voice/piano performances.
To cite once again:
One day, Gould decided to sing to a herd of cows; and so, armed with a score of Germanic music, he proceeded to bellow forth the strains of an orchestral work of either Wagner or Strauss (I cannot recall which), the result being that the herd mooed quite loudly and proceeded to move away from the source of its discomfort.
I have also heard that another group of animals was accosted in the same manner by this genius. This event is, I believe, in a documentary about his life.
Gould (all in jest, of course) remarked about the lack of taste exhibited by these audiences, and skulked off, bemoaning the refutation of his message.
Truly, one of a kind .

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