Dec 7, 2011
Glenn Gould was a world renowned classical pianist and an 'eccentric genius'— a 'solitary, headstrong, hypochondriac virtuoso.' Abandoning stage performances in 1964, he concentrated instead on mastering recordings, radio, television, and print. His sudden death at age fifty stunned the world, but his music and legacy continues.
Philosopher/critic Mark Kingwell sees Gould as a philosopher of music whose contradictory, mischievous, and deliberately provocative ideas ruled his life. Instead of a single narrative in his Extraordinary Canadians biography of Gould, Kingwell adopts a 'kaleidoscopic' approach. It took Gould twenty-one "takes" to record the opening aria in the famed 1955 Goldberg Variations, Kingwell does the same with Gould's life. Each take offers a slightly different, sensitive interpretation of this complex man, each plays with the notes, harmonies and dissonances that characterized his time on earth.
I met with Kingwell to talk about Gould, chutney, the problem of the biographical line, perfectionism, architectural beauty, tempo, pregnancy, absence becoming presence, recording and communications technology, and wonder.