4 Replies to “Glenn Gould Is Nuts”

  1. I’ve only watched the first few minutes, I’ll dig in deeper later. What he’s saying is true only of the piano sonatas, which (except for K310) are mostly well-written fluff. Many later works–last six symphonies, piano concertos 15-27, chamber works (especially “Hadyn” string quartets, wind serenades 10 & 12)–were written by a god. It can be hard to hear what’s really going on in Mozart. The surface is so smooth and easy to listen to that it masks the darker undercurrents (Piano Cocertos 20 & 24, Symphony 40, Wind Serenade 12 especially). It all seems so nice and obvious until you listen more closely.

    That said, Glenn Gould was a great pianist, and I love his playing even when it is willfully wrong-headed. Today no one could ever get away with playing as he did, and the world is worse as a result.

    The conductor George Szell summed up GG very well: “that nut’s a genius.”

  2. Hmmm. It’s a technical analysis that shows the limits of technical analysis. You could break down any number of great Beatles songs into their thematic and harmonic components and conclude that they just trafficked in 50’s pop cliches. But a bigger problem is that he cherry-picks examples that, in isolation from the whole, sound like padding. You can find plenty of other examples that are harmonically forward-thinking and unexpected. Unconvincing, but fun. Thanks for posting!

  3. I had an inkling that you might clue us in. I was just appreciating the spectacle. To this point, my exposure to GG was watching various videos of Goldberg Variations, and Jiminy Glick’s assertion that Steve Martin was named for GG.

  4. That interview’s hilarious.

    I love GG’s Goldbergs. His 80’s remake is especially crazy, but neither version is ever boring, unlike many others.

    I think his biggest problem with Mozart is that he wasn’t Bach or Beethoven.

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