I wish I'd said it first:

"The world is a stage but the play is badly cast"
Oscar Wilde

"In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away."
shing xiong

"Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid."
John Wayne

"Life is a great, big canvas and you should throw all the paint you can on it."
Danny Kaye

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould and Me.

Johann Sebastian Bach


My favorite collection of classical music is The Goldberg Variations. Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and published in 1741 is a collection of 30 variations specific to the harpsichord - The Variations are named after harpsichord virtuoso Johann Gottlieb Goldberg. I listen to this music when I want to relax and be creative - It's soothing, it's exciting, it's beautiuful. Unarguablly, the most well known performance and recording of The Goldberg Variations are by Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. I have Glenn Gould's 1981 recording as well as his 1955 recording - they are as different as night and day - Gould made his original mark on the world stage by first recording these 30 pieces of music in a NY City recording studio. Gould, died of a stroke at the age of 50, a couple of months after recording his second take on the Variations. It is believed that Glenn Gould suffered from Asperger's Syndrome - a form of high functioning autism. This probably explains Gould's bizarre humming during performances - Sound engineers were driven mad by Gould's inability to stop the humming while recording. If you listen closely, you can hear him methodically humming along as he plays.



Glenn Gould, Rehersal, Toronto - 1974

2 comments:

Friar Tuck said...

I teach a whole course at the university on Bach. We spend a week on the Goldberg Variations and you should see students debate the points of difference between the two recordings. It does my heart good to see them care so much about such subtlties.

Pull Up A Chair said...

Just one week? You could spend a semester on it and still not fit it all in. I want to take the class! Except I do not play any instrument. I own a nice piano and it looks lonely in the living room...

Gould hated his '55 recording - He would have erased it from the planet if he could have -- I like both of them - they each have their merits.

I listened to some of it last night -

I have just posted an amazing video of Gould playing the most beautiful music I swear I have ever heard... It reduces me to tears.