112 Facts About Glenn Gould


Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian classical pianist.


Glenn Gould was one of the most famous and celebrated pianists of the 20th century, and was renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach.


Glenn Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and others, in favour of Bach and Beethoven mainly, along with some late-Romantic and modernist composers.


Glenn Gould was known for his eccentricities, from his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard to aspects of his lifestyle and behaviour.


Glenn Gould stopped giving concerts at age 31 to concentrate on studio recording and other projects.


Glenn Gould was a prolific contributor to musical journals, in which he discussed music theory and outlined his musical philosophy.


Glenn Gould performed on television and radio, and produced three musique concrete radio documentaries, the Solitude Trilogy, about isolated areas of Canada.


Glenn Herbert Gould was born at home in Toronto, on September 25,1932, the only child of Russell Herbert Gold and Florence Emma Gold, Presbyterians of Scottish, English, and Norwegian ancestry.


Glenn Gould learned to read music before he could read words, and it was observed that he had perfect pitch at age three.


When presented with a piano, the young Glenn Gould was reported to strike single notes and listen to their long decay, a practice his father Bert noted was different from typical children.


Glenn Gould first heard a live musical performance by a celebrated soloist at age six.


Glenn Gould studied music theory with Leo Smith, organ with Frederick C Silvester, and piano with Alberto Guerrero.


Glenn Gould used this chair for the rest of his life, taking it with him almost everywhere.


The chair was designed so that Glenn Gould could sit very low and allowed him to pull down on the keys rather than striking them from above, a central technical idea of Guerrero's.


Glenn Gould developed a technique that enabled him to choose a very fast tempo while retaining the "separateness" and clarity of each note.


Glenn Gould showed considerable technical skill in performing and recording a wide repertoire including virtuosic and romantic works, such as his own arrangement of Ravel's La valse and Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.


Glenn Gould worked from a young age with Guerrero on a technique known as finger-tapping: a method of training the fingers to act more independently from the arm.


Glenn Gould passed his final Conservatory examination in piano at age 12, achieving the highest marks of any candidate, and thus attaining professional standing as a pianist.


Glenn Gould was a child prodigy and was described in adulthood as a musical phenomenon.


Glenn Gould claimed to have almost never practiced on the piano itself, preferring to study repertoire by reading, another technique he had learned from Guerrero.


Glenn Gould said he did not understand other pianists' need to continuously reinforce their relationship with the instrument by practicing many hours a day.


Glenn Gould seemed able to practise mentally, once preparing for a recording of Brahms's piano works without playing them until a few weeks before the sessions.


Glenn Gould's pianism had great clarity and erudition, particularly in contrapuntal passages, and extraordinary control.


Glenn Gould believed the piano to be "a contrapuntal instrument" and his whole approach to music was centered in the Baroque.


Glenn Gould had a pronounced aversion to what he termed "hedonistic" approaches to piano repertoire, performance, and music generally.


Glenn Gould associated this drift toward hedonism with the emergence of a cult of showmanship and gratuitous virtuosity on the concert platform in the 19th century and later.


On June 5,1938, at age five, Glenn Gould played in public for the first time, joining his family on stage to play piano at a church service at the Business Men's Bible Class in Uxbridge, Ontario, in front of a congregation of about 2,000.


Glenn Gould founded the Festival Trio chamber group in 1953 with cellist Isaac Mamott and violinist Albert Pratz.


In 1957, Glenn Gould undertook a tour of the Soviet Union, becoming the first North American to play there since World War II.


Glenn Gould's concerts featured Bach, Beethoven, and the serial music of Schoenberg and Berg, which had been suppressed in the Soviet Union during the era of Socialist Realism.


Glenn Gould made his Boston debut in 1958, playing for the Peabody Mason Concert Series.


On January 31,1960, Glenn Gould made his American television debut on CBS's Ford Presents series, performing Bach's Keyboard Concerto No 1 in D minor with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic.


Glenn Gould was convinced that the institution of the public concert was an anachronism and a "force of evil", leading to his retirement from concert performance.


Glenn Gould argued that public performance devolved into a sort of competition, with a non-empathetic audience mostly attendant to the possibility of the performer erring or failing critical expectation.


Glenn Gould set forth this doctrine, half in jest, in "GPAADAK", the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds.


On 10 April 1964, Glenn Gould gave his last public performance, at Los Angeles's Wilshire Ebell Theater.


Glenn Gould performed fewer than 200 concerts during his career, of which fewer than 40 were outside Canada.


Glenn Gould felt that he could realize a musical score more fully this way.


Glenn Gould felt strongly that there was little point in rerecording centuries-old pieces if the performer had no new perspective to bring.


Glenn Gould often hummed or sang while he played, and his audio engineers were not always able to exclude his voice from recordings.


Glenn Gould claimed that his singing was unconscious and increased in proportion to his inability to produce his intended interpretation on a given piano.


Some of Glenn Gould's recordings were severely criticised because of this background "vocalising".


Glenn Gould was known for his peculiar, even theatrical, gesticulations while playing.


Glenn Gould had to sit exactly 14 inches above the floor, and would play concerts only with the chair his father had made.


Glenn Gould used this chair even when the seat was completely worn.


Glenn Gould's chair is so closely identified with him that it is shown in a place of honour in a glass case at Library and Archives Canada.


Glenn Gould was averse to cold and wore heavy clothing even in warm places.


Glenn Gould was once arrested, possibly being mistaken for a vagrant, while sitting on a park bench in Sarasota, Florida, dressed in his standard all-climate attire of coat, hat and mittens.


Glenn Gould hated being touched, and in later life limited personal contact, relying on the telephone and letters for communication.


Glenn Gould did not cook; instead he often ate at restaurants and relied on room service.


Glenn Gould ate one meal a day, supplemented by arrowroot biscuits and coffee.


When Glenn Gould was in Los Angeles in 1956, he met Cornelia Foss, an art instructor, and her husband Lukas, a conductor.


In 1967, she left her husband for Glenn Gould, taking her two children with her to Toronto.


In 2007, Foss confirmed that she and Glenn Gould had had a love affair for several years.


Ostwald later discussed the possibility that Glenn Gould had developed a "psychogenic eating disorder" around this time.


In 1956, Glenn Gould was taking Thorazine, an anti-psychotic medication, and reserpine, another anti-psychotic, which can be used to lower blood pressure.


Cornelia Foss has said that Glenn Gould took many antidepressants, which she blamed for his deteriorating mental state.


Whether Glenn Gould's behaviour fell within the autism spectrum has been debated.


On September 27,1982, two days after his 50th birthday, after experiencing a severe headache, Glenn Gould had a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.


Glenn Gould was admitted to Toronto General Hospital and his condition rapidly deteriorated.


Glenn Gould is buried next to his parents in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery.


An animal lover, Glenn Gould left half his estate to the Toronto Humane Society; the other half went to the Salvation Army.


Glenn Gould periodically told interviewers he would have been a writer if he had not been a pianist.


Glenn Gould expounded his criticism and philosophy of music and art in lectures, convocation speeches, periodicals, and CBC radio and television documentaries.


Glenn Gould's writing style was highly articulate, but sometimes florid, indulgent, and rhetorical.


Glenn Gould repeatedly called himself "the last puritan", a reference to the philosopher George Santayana's 1935 novel of the same name.


Glenn Gould was progressive and anti-progressive at once, and likewise at once both a critic of the Zeitgeist and its most interesting expression.


Glenn Gould was, in effect, stranded on a beachhead of his own thinking between past and future.


Glenn Gould both was and was not a man of his time.


Glenn Gould 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.


Glenn Gould asks why the epoch in which a work is received influences its reception as "art", postulating a sonata of his own composition that sounds so like one of Haydn's that it is received as such.


In creating music, Glenn Gould much preferred the control and intimacy provided by the recording studio.


Glenn Gould disliked the concert hall, which he compared to a competitive sporting arena.


Glenn Gould gave his final public performance in 1964, and thereafter devoted his career to the studio, recording albums and several radio documentaries.


Glenn Gould was attracted to the technical aspects of recording, and considered the manipulation of tape to be another part of the creative process.


Glenn Gould recounted his recording of the A minor fugue from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier and how it was spliced together from two takes, with the fugue's expositions from one take and its episodes from another.


Glenn Gould soon signed with Columbia Records' classical music division and, in 1955, recorded Bach: The Goldberg Variations, his breakthrough work.


Glenn Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many recitals.


Glenn Gould said Bach 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".


Glenn Gould recorded most of Bach's other keyboard works, including both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the partitas, French Suites, English Suites, inventions and sinfonias, keyboard concertos, and a number of toccatas.


Glenn Gould recorded all five of the piano concertos, 23 of the piano sonatas, and numerous bagatelles and variations.


Glenn Gould was the first pianist to record any of Liszt's piano transcriptions of Beethoven's symphonies.


Glenn Gould recorded works by Brahms, Mozart, and many other prominent piano composers, though he was outspoken in his criticism of the Romantic era as a whole.


Glenn Gould was fond of a number of lesser-known composers such as Orlando Gibbons, whose Anthems he had heard as a teenager, and whose music he felt a "spiritual attachment" to.


Glenn Gould recorded a number of Gibbons's keyboard works, and called him his favourite composer, despite his better-known admiration for Bach.


Glenn Gould made recordings of piano music by Jean Sibelius, Georges Bizet, Richard Strauss, and Hindemith.


In early September 1982, Glenn Gould made his final recording: Strauss's Piano Sonata in B minor.


The success of Glenn Gould's collaborations was to a degree dependent upon his collaborators' receptiveness to his sometimes unconventional readings of the music.


Glenn Gould recorded Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Ernst Krenek with numerous vocalists, including Donald Gramm and Ellen Faull.


Glenn Gould recorded Bach's six sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Jaime Laredo, and the three sonatas for viola da gamba and keyboard with Leonard Rose.


Glenn Gould collaborated with members of the New York Philharmonic, the flutist Julius Baker and the violinist Rafael Druian in a recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 4, and with Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5 in 1966.


Glenn Gould collaborated extensively with Vladimir Golschmann and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra for the Columbia Masterworks label in his recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 1 in 1958 and several works by Bach in the 1960s, including the Keyboard Concerto No 3, the Keyboard Concerto No 5 and the Keyboard Concerto No 7 in 1967 and the Keyboard Concerto No 2 in E major and the Keyboard Concerto No 4 in A major in 1969.


Glenn Gould made numerous television and radio programs for CBC Television and CBC Radio.


Glenn Gould was a prolific transcriber of orchestral repertoire for piano.


Glenn Gould transcribed his own Wagner and Ravel recordings, as well as Strauss's operas and Schubert's and Bruckner's symphonies, which he played privately for pleasure.


Glenn Gould attributed his failure as a composer to his lack of a "personal voice".


Glenn Gould had earlier directed Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 5 and the cantata Widerstehe doch der Sunde from the harpsipiano, and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 2 in the 1960s.


Glenn Gould's first known public appearance conducting occurred in 1939 when he was six, while appearing as a pianist in a concert for the Business Men's Bible Class in Uxbridge.


In 1958, Glenn Gould wrote to Golschmann of his "temporary retirement" from conducting, apparently as a result of the unanticipated muscular strain it created.


Glenn Gould found himself "practically crippled" after his conducting appearances and unable to perform properly at the piano.


Yet even at the age of 26, Glenn Gould continued to contemplate retiring as a piano soloist and devoting himself entirely to conducting.


Glenn Gould's last recording as a conductor was of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll in its original chamber-music scoring.


Glenn Gould intended to spend his later years conducting, writing about music, and composing while pursuing an idlyllic "neoThoreauvian way of life" in the countryside.


Glenn Gould is one of the most acclaimed musicians of the 20th century.


Glenn Gould is a popular subject of biography and critical analysis.


Francois Girard's Genie Award-winning 1993 film Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould includes interviews with people who knew him, dramatizations of scenes from his life, and fanciful segments including an animation set to music.


Glenn Gould left an extensive body of work beyond the keyboard.


In 1983, Glenn Gould was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.


Glenn Gould was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto in 1998, and designated a National Historic Person in 2012.


The Glenn Gould Foundation was established in Toronto in 1983 to honour Gould and keep alive his memory and life's work.


Glenn Gould received many honours both during his lifetime and posthumously.


Glenn Gould won four and, as with the Junos, accepted one in person.