Sunday, September 25, 2011

We remember the vacant chair

Today is pianist Glenn Gould's birthday. He would be 79. That is too bad he is not around, you know? Glenn Gould would have made a great old man.

If he was as weird as he was years ago imagine how weird he would be now.

Plus it would be just interesting to see what would have happened to him. I bet he would be on Facebook. Just a guess.

I wonder how or what he would be playing on the piano, or whether he would be playing the piano at all.

I am ambivalent toward Glenn Gould because of all the press he gets over stupid things. Whenever you see a movie about him, or a trailer for a movie about him, they can't wait to start talking about his special chair or his heavy overcoat or any of that other dumb stuff that really has nothing to do with anything. It has nothing to do with anything but it is what he is remembered for.

Then the movie makers usually put Bach's "Goldberg" Variations on the soundtrack. Which, he played them superbly, but he didn't write them, you know? I see this sort of thing all the time in movies about conductors. They show some guy conducting, and then this Brahms symphony billows out, and you think: What a genius! But who is the genius -- the conductor, or Brahms? Who is it you are really falling in love with?

That having been said, as pundits like to put it ....

I like to watch Glenn Gould defending Richard Strauss. There was a time when you had to defend him.

This video has a song I love, "Cacilie." One of those great declarative Strauss love songs with an over-the-top piano part. Which, I have to say, Gould plays rather well.

Gould is kind of obnoxious and too sure of himself, and he felt free to broadcast boneheaded opinions. That comes from having a government behind you.

But I do get the feeling his heart was in the right place.

Plus I have to admit this, since I was a teenager I have had a weakness for his thuggy performance of the Mozart A Minor Sonata. So many pianists treat Mozart like glass. Gould does not, that is for sure.

Hahahaha... watch the bubbles in the video.

I think Glenn Gould would have liked them!

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