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Glenn Gould

Biography

Born: September 25, 1932   Died: October 4, 1982   Country: Canada  
The defining moment of Glenn Gould's career came in 1964 when, at the age of 31, he withdrew from all public performance. The move was viewed by audiences and critics as willful and bewildering, and was seen as evidence that despite his demonstrably supreme artistry he was, in the argot of the common man, a nut.

But, as George Szell once said of him, "That nut [was] a genius." In his short international career, which spanned only 24
Read more years, Glenn Gould changed the way the music world thought about performance practice, recording, and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Glenn Gould was born to comfortable middle-class parents in Toronto in 1932. A pampered only child, Gould demonstrated his remarkable talents quite early and in 1943 entered the Toronto Conservatory of Music, where he quickly came to the attention of its director, Sir Ernest MacMillan. On MacMillan's recommendation, Gould was taken on as a student by the Chilean-born pedagogue Alberto Guerrero, whose own style was partly the basis for Gould's own sensitive touch. Gould once described Guerrero's keyboard technique as not so much striking the keys as "pulling them down." The other influence on Gould's technique was his experience playing the organ, wherein the tracker action is particularly responsive to variations in finger pressure.

Gould made his debut at the age of 16, playing Beethoven's fourth piano concerto in Toronto. He followed this triumph with tours across Canada and frequent broadcast performances over the CBC, introducing him to the studio enviroment which would remain a focus of his life thereafter. Gould leaped into international acclaim, in fact, through a studio production: his now-legendary 1955 Columbia Masterworks recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. This recording, which has never been out of print in the 50 years since its first release, established Gould as a performer who combined penetrating insight (his Goldberg Variations was nothing short of a complete rethinking of the piece) and artistic daring with daunting technical prowess.

Gould's immediate fame brought international demand, and he responded with worldwide concert appearances; he met these with considerable reluctance, however, and quickly gained a reputation for last-minute cancellations. His dislike of performing in public, of being "looked at" by audiences, allowed a natural tendency of hypochondria to blossom (it was a convenient cancellation excuse), and he soon became the habitue of specialists ranging from chiropractors to psychiatrists. Long before quitting the stage forever, Gould had made frequent threats to do so, so that his 1964 decision was no surprise to those who knew him.

Following his withdrawal, Gould threw himself into a frenzy of recording, writing, and radio documentary production. His method of splicing together single performances from dozens of takes was initially viewed as something of an artistic fraud, though the technique was eventually adopted, in less exhaustive form, by the recording industry in subsequent years. His radio documentaries were less successful: a trilogy about life in Canada's northern territories combined multiple interviews in contrapuntal ways, an interesting idea that nevertheless rendered the sense of what was being said more or less unintelligible.

Though plagued by many imaginary maladies, Gould suffered from a very real hypertension that eventually led to a massive stroke, which he suffered in 1982, and from which he never recovered. He died in Toronto General Hospital, one week after being stricken, on October 4, 1982, at age 50. Read less
Browse 1-11 of 11 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    This Is Glenn Gould: The Story of a Genius [2 CDs & Book Anniversary Edition]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 542393 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Glenn Gould,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould
    CD: $11.99
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  • 2.
    Alicja Smietana Plays Bach, Gould, Previn & Part
    Label: Solo Musica   Catalog: 176 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  André Previn,  Arvo Pärt,  Glenn Gould,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Alicja Smietana,  Evelyne Berezovsky
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    Gould Gulda / Sasha Grynyuk
    Label: Piano Classics   Catalog: 43 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Friedrich Gulda,  Glenn Gould
    Performer:  Sasha Grynyuk
    CD: $14.99
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  • 4.
    Sounds Of North: Two Centuries Of Canadian Piano Music
    Label: Gala (Canadian Indie)   Catalog: 108 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  F. Glackemeyer,  George Pfeiffer,  W.H. Warren,  James Paton Clarke  ... 
    Performer:  Elaine Keillor
    On sale! $57.98
    CD: $43.99
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  • 5.
    Glenn Gould On Television - Complete CBC Broadcasts 1954-1977
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 795210 Release Date: 10/24/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gustav Mahler,  Glenn Gould  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould,  Maureen Forrester,  Patricia Rideout,  Elizabeth Benson-Guy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Canadian String Quartet
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  • 6.
    Gould, Macmillan: String Quartets / Alcan String Quartet
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 2596 Release Date: 03/31/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Ernest MacMillan,  Glenn Gould
    Performer:  Luc Beauchemin,  David Ellis,  Laura Andriani,  Nathalie Camus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alcan String Quartet
    CD: $17.99
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  • 7.
    Glenn Gould - Hereafter (In English)
    Label: Juxtapositions   Catalog: 20 Release Date: 09/26/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Orlando Gibbons,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 8.
    Pianists As Composers / Donald Manildi
    Label: Elan Recordings   Catalog: 82416 Release Date: 11/30/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Abram Chasins,  Alfred Cortot,  Moritz Rosenthal,  José Iturbi  ... 
    Performer:  Donald Manildi
    On sale! $19.98
    CD: $16.99
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  • 9.
    The Glenn Gould Silver Jubilee Album
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 60686 Release Date: 09/22/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Alexander Scriabin  ... 
    Performer:  Glenn Gould,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,  Elizabeth Benson-Guy,  Charles Bressler  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Golschmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Juilliard String Quartet
    CD not available
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  • 10.
    Glenn Gould Edition - Gould: Quartet;  Shostakovich, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 52679 Release Date: 02/25/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Glenn Gould,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Glenn Gould,  Elizabeth Benson-Guy,  Donald Gramm,  Charles Bressler  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Golschmann,  Boris Brott
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphonia String Quartet,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 11.
    Glenn Gould - The Composer
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47184 Release Date: 10/06/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Glenn Gould
    Performer:  Jean-Paul Fouchécourt,  Marie-Therese Keller,  Claron McFadden,  Bruno Monsaingeon  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicolas Rivenq
    ArkivCD $16.99
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