By Penny Johnson, Contributing Author
In an effort to bolster my repertoire of works by Canadian composers as well as to gain an understanding of the compositional processes of Glenn Gould, I recently embarked on the task of learning his 2 Pieces for Piano (1951-52). Written in the twelve-tone style fashioned by Arnold Schoenberg – whose music Gould had been introduced to by his teacher, Alberto Guerrero, around 1948/49 – the work represents one of several composed during the early 1950’s at a time when the young pianist was vigorously exercising his compositional abilities in the post-tonal arena. Other works include the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, a String Trio, 2 Pieces for Organ (each written in 1950) and the 5 Short Piano Pieces (1951). The following text and audio samples display some of the observations I have made throughout the course of my studies. Clocking in at a fashionably ‘Webernesque’ two minutes and forty seconds, the work contains a host of clues leading to an understanding of the factors that influenced the musical aesthetics of the nineteen year-old.