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Conversations With Glenn Gould [Paperback]

Jonathan Cott


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Book Description

October 1984
One of the most idiosyncratic and charismatic musicians of the twentieth century, pianist Glenn Gould (1932–82) slouched at the piano from a sawed-down wooden stool, interpreting Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart at hastened tempos with pristine clarity. A strange genius and true eccentric, Gould was renowned not only for his musical gifts but also for his erratic behavior: he often hummed aloud during concerts and appeared in unpressed tails, fingerless gloves, and fur coats. In 1964, at the height of his controversial career, he abandoned the stage completely to focus instead on recording and writing.

Jonathan Cott, a prolific author and poet praised by Larry McMurtry as "the ideal interviewer," was one of the very few people to whom Gould ever granted an interview. Cott spoke with Gould in 1974 for Rolling Stone and published the transcripts in two long articles; after Gould's death, Cott gathered these interviews in Conversations with Glenn Gould, adding an introduction, a selection of photographs, a list of Gould's recorded repertoire, a filmography, and a listing of Gould's programs on radio and TV. A brilliant one-on-one in which Gould discusses his dislike of Mozart's piano sonatas, his partiality for composers such as Orlando Gibbons and Richard Strauss, and his admiration for the popular singer Petula Clark (and his dislike of the Beatles), among other topics, Conversations with Glenn Gould is considered by many, including the subject, to be the best interview Gould ever gave and one of his most remarkable performances.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Review

"This book reminds us once again that however eccentric [Gould] may have been, he was not merely so. Gould's lively and erudite voice, revived here, convinced us that even at his most far-fetched, his ideas were fully thought out and firmly related to the sensible practicalities of his craft." - Eva Hoffman, New York Times" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jonathan Cott is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and has written for the New York Times and the New Yorker. He is the author of the forthcoming On the Sea of Memory, a collection of poems, a critical biography of Bob Dylan, a number of collections of interviews—including Visions and Voices—and a collection of writing on music, Back to a Shadow in the Night: Music Writings and Interviews 1968-1991. He is the editor of Studs Terkel's forthcoming book And They All Sang, a collection of Terkel's interviews with musical personalities.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for fans of Gould April 25 2008
By Erik Ketzan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This slim volume greatly exceeded my expectations. I was expecting an interesting but essentially non-essential book to be read and then largely placed aside or forgotten. To my pleasant surprise, however, the book is so densely packed with Gould's philosophy, wit, and ideas that it ranks among his better records. I suspect that, like a good recording, I will return to this from time to time, not only to illuminate his musical ouevre but to re-examine the original thoughts it contains.

The book contains two interviews conducted over the phone by music journalist Jonathan Cott. Cott is a solid interviewer, but sometimes can't keep up with Gould, who apparently talks off the cuff with a complexity most of us would be glad to achieve in writing and few could hope to match in terms of density and erudition. As a bonus, the book contains Gould's side of the story regarding his much-recounted meeting with conductor George Szell, who famously remarked about Gould, "That nut's a genius."

I would recommend this book absolutely to anyone with more than a passing acquintance with Gould's unique music.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Character June 7 2007
By ECThoma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been fascinated with Glenn Gould for a number of years, so to find anything about him or his life is very interesting. I enoyed this book very much and recommend it to anyone who likes to read about extraordinary people.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superbly concise GOULD! Oct. 26 2007
By LuelCanyon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great little book offering a wild splash of the supremely confident thought of one of the great artists of the 20th century. I know a lot of Gould, and Cott's engaging interview brings new material forward, framing a distinct portrait of Gould's indisputable gifts. One of the best aspects of the interviews (for those who appreciate Gould's humor) is Gould's plucky references to the Watergate hearings (which were being telecast during the time span of the interviews included), managing an elfish weaving of John Dean testimony into a discussion about Orlando Gibbons, among other examples. Gould's divine quixotic humor quickens everything, and Cott wisely lets it play. The pace of the book is admirable. While question and answer interview formats can wear, here the query is intelligent, even knowing, and Gould's characteristic replies gather and converge to form, as expected, a seamless and ever-inspired compendium of vital analysis of and love for the art of music. Nothing rivals Gould's mystical penetration of his art. Essential for the Gould-engaged.

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