Mr Leonard Bernstein’s disclaimer regarding Mr Glenn Gould

Mr Leonard Bernstein’s eloquent disclaimer regarding certain aspects of  Mr Glenn Gould’s interpretation of the Brahms No. 1 Piano Concerto, before a concert in April 1962. He was particularly referring to Gould’s insistence that the entire first movement be played at half the indicated tempo. Gould was no lover of public recitals. He called them ‘the last remaining blood sport’. He gave his last public performance in 1964. He was 31. This perhaps give some indication of why he found it distasteful:

I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity

Here are some pictures of Gould during recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

Gould soaking his hands before playing. He began with lukewam water then gradually raised the temperature.

Gould laughing as engineers let him hear how his humming spoiled his recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations– after which he offered to wear a gas mask as a muffle. Gould would not let engineers remove the sound of his voice ‘humming’ in the backgound over fear that doing so would diminish the recording’s quality

Gould eating his lunch (graham crackers & milk cut with bottled spring water) while sitting at the sound engineers table

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far, here are the sounds themselves:

The end of the 1st movement of the Bach Concerto in D Minor

From the 1982 Recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, on which you can clearly hear Gould’s singing/humming:

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Trio Da Kali warmed a chilly November night at Troy’s Sanctuary - The Alt

  2. Pingback: Trio Da Kali warmed a chilly November night at Troy’s Sanctuary - The Alt

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