Great Madmen of the 20th Century #1

Glenn Gould


swac said...

Weird as Gould was, when you heard him talk about something he was passionate about, like the Arctic, he was incredibly eloquent. Somewhere I have a videotape of Gould giving a personal tour of Toronto, describing a youthful performance he once gave at the Canadian National Exhibition, which just boggles my mind.

Once I went to Toronto, and I had the opportunity to ride in a limo, and the driver informed me that he had driven Gould around from time to time. I asked him where Gould would go to eat, and he told me that Fran's 24 hour restaurant, near Maple Leaf Gardens was a popular spot he'd haunt in the wee hours. Supposedly the scene of Gould listening to conversations in a truck stop in 22 Short Films About Glenn Gould is actually based on his trips to Fran's, which, by the by, makes amazing waffles and has an assortment of syrups, including a terrific raspberry one.

I also have a hat just like Gould's. But I've said too much already.

Tom Sutpen said...

Nahhhh. I don't think you can say too much about Glenn Gould. He's one of those people who seemed to generate anecdotes without effort, and I doubt there's a person who had even the smallest dealings with him that doesn't carry around some story of his patent eccentricity.

I used to listen to Gould's recordings constantly when I was about 11-12 years old. My public library had an amazingly well-stocked Audio/Visual section and, before I started seriously listening to anything else, I was forever checking out Classical Music LPs and (listen up, Ivan)tapes of old Radio programs . . . okay, I was an unusual kid, I'll admit. Gould was my favorite recording artist for a few years there, but it wasn't until I started reading some of the stories about him which had already become legend . . . his giving up on live performances, for instance, or checking himself into the Toronto Hilton for a few days while his apartment was being painted and staying for five years . . . that I became fascinated.

I've heard a few of those documentaries he used to do for the CBC (he apparently did dozens of them in his short lifetime), and I was always amazed at their single-mindedness and their completely dispassionate quality. If you didn't know he was one of the premier Pianists of the age, you'd assume he was an Assistant Profesor of something or other supplementing his income By comparison, listen to Leonard Bernstein's "Unanswered Question" lectures and, no matter how many references to other disciplines he hauls in, it's still unmistakably Leonard Bernstein pursuing his obsessions.

I remember how I found out that Glenn Gould died. I was with a couple of friends and idly thumbing through that week's issue of 'Rolling Stone'. When I announced, with a small note of sorrow, what I'd just learned, all they could do was stare. They didn't have a clue who I was talking about.