Remembering Glenn Gould: Twenty Interviews With People Who Knew Him

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9781897323205: Remembering Glenn Gould: Twenty Interviews With People Who Knew Him
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In Remembering Glenn Gould, Eatock brings together a diverse group of people who knew and worked with Gould: musicians,broadcasters,professional associates, writers and personal friends. Seeking to capture their memories of Gould as directly as possible, Eatock presents them in their own words, in Q&A interviews.

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About the Author:

Colin Eatock is a composer, music critic, author, editor and educator. Born in Hamilton, Canada, in 1958, he has lived in Ontario all his life (except for one year in London, England), and has called the city of Toronto home for the last quarter-century. Eatock frequently writes about music for Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper, and has also written for the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle. As well, he has contributed to many periodicals, including Queen's Quarterly, the Literary Review of Canada, Opera Canada, Opus and the WholeNote in Canada; American Record Guide, Early Music America, Listen and Strings in the USA; and BBC Music, the Strad, Opera, Musical Opinion and International Piano in the UK. His first book, Mendelssohn and Victorian England, was published by Ashgate Press in 2009. As a composer, Eatock has written songs, chamber music, choral works and orchestral compositions. His music has been performed and broadcast in Canada, the USA and the UK, and has been released on the Furiant, Echiquier and Toreador record labels. He is also an associate member of the Canadian Music Centre, where most of his scores are available. A CD wholly devoted to his music, Colin Eatock: Chamber Music, is a 2012 release of the Canadian Music Centre's record label, Centrediscs. Eatock holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Toronto, and has also lectured at the U of T. As well, he holds masters degrees in music composition (U of T) and music criticism (McMaster University), and a bachelor of music degree (University of Western Ontario). Before he became a freelance writer, he worked for ten years within the administration of Toronto's Canadian Opera Company, as an editor, publicist and fundraiser.

Review:

Why another book about Glenn Gould? So asked Anton Kuerti before sitting down last year with Colin Eatock, the critic and musicologist responsible for Remembering Glenn Gould. To a considerable degree, the Toronto pianist provided his own answer in the ensuing interview, one of 20 in this remarkably readable book. Rather than add to the hefty corpus of speculative commentary on Gould, Eatock has assembled a bracing collection of first-person reminiscences by people who actually knew Canada s most indestructibly famous classical musician. Pianist/broadcaster Stuart Hamilton and composer John Beckwith, both fellow students at what is now the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, concur that Gould inherited much from his teacher Alberto Guerrero, including the trademark slouch at the piano and flat-fingered attack. But the image of Gould as essentially self-taught made for a better story, comments Beckwith, who numbers among the pianist s more standoffish admirers. There are interesting observations from the CBC producer John P.L. Roberts, whom Eatock credits with coming very close to knowing the whole man. The infamous super-slow 1962 performance of Brahms s Piano Concerto No. 1 that prompted a disclaimer from Leonard Bernstein was followed by repeat performances, the last of which was in tempo and reportedly electrifying. While we might not be too surprised acquainted as we are with the magnitude of Gould s talent to read that he could spontaneously transcribe Wagner s Tristan und Isolde at the piano, it is interesting to learn (again, from Roberts) that he could do the same with William Walton s Troilus and Cressida, an opera he had acquainted himself with by looking over the score on a flight from London. --Montreal Gazette

Piano fans get plenty of technical illumination from Gould s personal tuner, Verne Edquist, who did not necessarily admire the instruments he was required to work on. Kuerti, who alienated Gould with a sharp backstage comment after that Brahms night, tempers admiration for Gould s pianistic ability ( It was amazing: his control, strength, speed, voicing ... ) with skepticism about his artistic choices. ( Beethoven couldn t have been wrong all the time! Kuerti says about a Gould performance of the Sonata Op. 78 in which expressive markings are deliberately reversed.) There is an interview with Gould's one known paramour, Cornelia Foss, herself a visual artist. It s not a question of being a genius, it s a question of working like a genius, she says in response to those who supposed that the pianist achieved what he did without much effort. As for his alleged paranoia, it was not ill founded, considering some of the strange letters and phone calls he (as a handsome and charismatic celebrity) received. Most of the interview subjects softpedal the eccentricities by which Gould was known to the larger public. Some say the reports of his pill-popping are exaggerated --Montreal Gazette

The timing is appropriate in a few ways. Sept. 25 marks the 80th anniversary of Gould s birth, and Oct. 4 the 30th anniversary of his death. Many of the interview subjects are either pushing 80 or past that landmark. Some are notable figures in their own right. Their portraits of Gould are inevitably portraits of themselves. Familiarity with the Gould biographical basics is helpful, but not essential: Meticulous footnotes keep newcomers in the loop. Even those who suppose themselves tolerably well briefed on the pianist and his art might encounter some revelations. I confess to never having known that Gould wished to make Lorne Tulk, the CBC technician who helped him create the radio documentary The Idea of North, legally his brother. From Tulk we also learn that Gould s fear of germs prevented the pianist from taking proper leave of his ailing mother in the hospital, a decision he greatly regretted. --Montreal Gazette

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