Happy birthday Glenn Gould!


Glenn Gould (September 25, 1932—October 4, 1982) was a Canadian pianist and composer. He became particularly well-known for his interpretations of Bach. He was also a writer, contributing his opinions abundantly on the subjects of performance and music history. He was a prolific broadcaster, producing radio and television documentaries about life in the Canadian wilderness.


Gould was born in Toronto, Canada, to Russell Herbert Gold and Florence Emma Gold. His parents had a heavy hand in cultivating his interest in music. Before he was even born, his mother planned for him to be a musician so she exposed him to music during her pregnancy. By the time he was three years old, it was noted that he had perfect pitch.

Gould began to play the piano and compose music at a very early age. He held performances of his own compositions for his family and friends, and his first public performance at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church. By the time he was 10 years old, he began to attend The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Gould passed the conservatory examination by the age of 12, thus achieving his status as a professional pianist.


In 1945, Gould had his first public performance as a professional. Not long after, he began performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In 1953, he founded the Festival Trio chamber group.

On a tour through the Soviet Union, he played compositions by Bach, Beethoven, and the serial music of Schoenberg and Berg.



Gould became increasingly against public concerts, believing them to be out of place and immoral. He wrote the Gould Plan for the Abolition of Applause and Demonstrations of All Kinds as a result. He much preferred recording. In his own words, he developed a "love affair with the microphone."


Gould wrote extensively about art as it relates to philosophy. In the essay "Forgery and Imitation in the Creative Process," he notably commented on the importance (or lack thereof) of the chronological context surrounding a given piece of work. He said, "What gives us the right to assume that in the work of art we must receive a direct communication with the historical attitudes of another period? ... moreover, what makes us assume that the situation of the man who wrote it accurately or faithfully reflects the situation of his time? ... What if the composer, as historian, is faulty?"


Gould was known for humming along while he played the piano, making it difficult to record him. Another eccentric aspect of his playing was that he had to use a chair that his father had made him which allowed for adjusting its height. He almost always insisted that the room where he played be kept extremely warm.

Gould lived a very private life, becoming more so over time.

Gould received many honors, though he was public against competition in art. In 1982, he suffered a stroke and died at the age of 50. After his death, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.


Selected works: 


Glenn Gould - On the Record by Wolf Koenig & by Roman Kroitor, National Film Board of Canada

Glenn Gould - Off the Record by Wolf Koenig & by Roman Kroitor, National Film Board of Canada




Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 25 September 2014
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