Glenn Gould FAQs

When and where was Glenn Gould born?

Glenn Gould was born in Toronto on September 25, 1932. An only child, he lived with his mother and father in the city's east-end neighbourhood called The Beaches (also known as The Beach).

 

Who were Glenn’s teachers?

Glenn’s first teacher was his mother Florence, who taught him until he was 10 years old. Glenn’s second, and only other teacher was the Chilean-born pianist, Alberto Guerrero. Guerrero taught Glenn a unique technique of finger-tapping to master difficult musical passages, which Glenn retained throughout his career. After leaving Guerrero in 1953, Glenn taught himself.

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Replica of Glenn Gould's Chair; Designed by René Bouchara

What is significant about the chair Glenn Gould would bring to every performance?

In 1953, Glenn’s father, Bert Gould customized a light-weight, wooden folding chair for Glenn to use at the piano. Glenn wanted a very low chair that could be set in various positions both front-to-back and diagonally to accommodate his movements while playing. Glenn travelled with this chair around the world and for every concert or recording session he played. Today, this iconic piece of Glenn’s legacy sits on permanent display with Gould's piano CD 318 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada.  Read more about the chair from the CBC Music Blog.

 

When did Glenn Gould play his last concert?

Glenn Gould played his final public concert on Friday, April 10, 1964 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, USA. He played four fugues from The Art of Fugue, Bach's Partita No. 4 in D Major, Beethoven's Op. 109 Sonata, and Hindemith's Third Sonata.

 

What did Glenn Gould do when he stopped performing live?

When Glenn Gould quit the concert circuit, he shifted his career to the recording studio. Immersing himself in radio and broadcast work, most notably with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, he went on to produce many radio documentaries. He invented "contrapuntal radio," a technique that takes multiple voices and plays them over top of each other to produce a single, multi-layered narrative. This technique continues to be the touchstone for radio artists around the world today.

One of Gould's most famous radio pieces was The Idea of North, in which Glenn explores the themes of solitude and isolation of Canada's Arctic with stories from Arctic residents. Read unique interviews with Glenn’s principal broadcasting technicians, Lorne Tulk and The Idea of North editor, Peter Shewchuk.

Other related articles: Examining the New Counterpoint: Gould's Contrapuntal Radio, by Anthony Cushing

 

 

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Photo: Jock Carroll

What are some recommended resources for someone who is just learning about Glenn Gould?

The following list is merely a sample of the most recent or most often cited Gould resources and is no way a complete reference of the many excellent materials available by knowledgeable critics, producers, researchers and academics in a variety of languages.

Audio

Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 (1956)
Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV (1981 Digital Recording) (1982)
Brahms: 10 Intermezzi Op. 76, 116, 117, 118, 119 (1961)
Bach: Keyboard Concertos Nos. 3, 5 & 7, BWV 1054, 1056 & 1058 (1967)
A Consort of Musicke Bye William Byrde and Orlando Gibbons (1971)
Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 73, “Emperor” (1966)
Schoenberg: Songs for Voice and Piano Op. 1, Op. 2, Op. 15 & Solo Piano works Op. 11, 19, 23, 25, Op. 33a & b (1966)
Gould: The Solitude Triology: Contrapuntal radio documentaries featuring The Idea of North, The Latecomers, The Quiet in the Land
Gould: Casals: A Portrait for Radio – Radio documentary on Pablo Casals (Cellist and Conductor)
Gould: Stokowski: A Portrait for Radio – Radio documentary on Leopold Stokowski (Conductor)

Books

Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould - Kevin Bazzana (2003) - Biography
The Glenn Gould Reader - Glenn Gould, Edited by Tim Page (1984) - Gould’s essays and other writings
Glenn Gould: Music and Mind - Geoffrey Payzant (1984) - A study of Glenn Gould
The Glenn Gould Magazine - Various authors, The Glenn Gould Foundation (1995-2008) Select copies are available for $25 CDN from The Glenn Gould Foundation.

Video

Glenn Gould on Television: The Complete CBC Broadcasts, 1954-1977 (2011)
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009)
Glenn Gould: The Alchemist (2003 re-release)

 

What Glenn Gould sites can I see when I visit Toronto?

Visitors to Toronto can follow and download our Guide to Glenn Gould's Toronto, which highlights important places related to Gould's work and life in the city.

One stop is the Glenn Gould Studio in the Canadian Broadcasting Centre. The Studio was built after Gould's death and opened in 1992. It houses an excellent display of photographs on Glenn's life, a colourful collection of covers from his many LP's and the Chickering piano from his youth. The official portraits of the Glenn Gould Prize Laureates are also on display in the Studio lobby.

Outside the Studio is the iconic Glenn Gould bench by Ontario sculptor Ruth Abernethy, who also sculpted the Glenn Gould Prize statue. Send us your photos at the bench!

 

 

Where is Glenn Gould buried?

Glenn Gould is buried in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in the eastern grounds between Mount Pleasant and Bayview Avenue. The site is officially registered as Section 38, Row 1088, Plot 1050. His grave marker is engraved with the opening notes of The Goldberg Variations. Glenn's mother, Florence, and his father, Herbert (Bert), are also buried in this plot. Their names and Glenn’s are carved onto the tombstone.

 

I am having trouble finding a particular recorded work by Glenn Gould. Where can I order discs?

Glenn Gould's recordings can be found on CBC Records and Sony Classical. Search these labels to find detailed listings.

How can I acquire the scores to Glenn Gould compositions?

Schott Publishers (headquartered in Mainz, Germany) are gradually publishing all of Gould's scores. Ask for these pieces by name and number at an appropriate music store or when ordering online.

 

 

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Photo: Jock Carroll

Is there a single book that lists all of Gould's concerts and recordings?

Because new releases continue to be published, no one book is fully up to date. However, the Sony Classical and CBC Records websites have the latest details on available discs. Also, the Canadian Encyclopedia has extensive information as does one of the most recently published Gould biographies by Kevin Bazzana, Wonderous Strange: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (McClelland and Stewart, 2003). There is also A Glenn Gould Catalogue written by Nancy Canning (Greenwood Press, 1992).

 

I've transcribed a text by Glenn Gould or want to use some of Glenn Gould’s material. May I publish it?

The Estate of Glenn Gould holds all rights, including publication rights, to the name and likeness of Gould and to all of his creative output, including musical and literary works. One cannot publish any work without the written permission of the Estate of Glenn Gould. Contact us with details of what you want to do, and The Glenn Gould Foundation office will do its best to direct you accordingly.

What can I do with a creative expression I've made about Glenn Gould?

The Glenn Gould Foundation welcomes submissions of creative work for our website that celebrate both the legacy of Glenn Gould and more broadly, topics and areas of innovation in arts, media and technology. Some works that are created exclusively for The Glenn Gould Foundation website may be eligible for a $100 CDN honorarium. Please visit Submissions for more information and understanding rights regarding the use of Glenn Gould's name and images.

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Photo: Jock Carroll

 

Where are Glenn Gould's papers and archives kept? Can I have access to them?

Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa is the repository of Glenn's music, his personal papers and his audio and video recordings. Anyone interested in having access to this Gould collection must first contact the Director of the Music Division before visiting the Library. The online Glenn Gould Archive is another valuable resource.

 

How can I support the work of The Glenn Gould Foundation?

The mission of The Glenn Gould Foundation is to honour Glenn Gould’s spirit and legacy by celebrating brilliance, promoting creativity and transforming lives through the power of music and the arts with the Foundation's signature activities, including The Glenn Gould Prize.

To support the work of The Glenn Gould Foundation, please visit our Donate page. To join our mailing list for news and updates, please email us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.