Glenn Gould played opening night of his 1957 Soviet Union tour to a half-full audience. During intermission, many listeners, astounded by what they had heard, telephoned their friends. By the performance's second half, the hall was full. One Russian musician in attendance remarked that 40 years later, he was still convinced Gould was an alien, that people couldn't play the piano like that. Glenn Gould: A Life in Pictures
celebrates the pianist's genius with such fond remembrances, brief critical assessments, and--most significantly--more than 200 photos, many never seen before. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma provides the foreword, describing Gould's mind as a "shimmering prism through which sounds, senses and ideas were magically transfigured." The main body of the book is divided into four chronological sections: "Overture," "Bursting Forth," "New Horizons," and "Envoi." Gould's childhood is the subject of the first section of the book. In his introduction, Washington Post
music critic Tim Page paints Gould as a supremely talented boy, already "capable of dazzling professional musicians." The photographs reveal a fairly conventional, if pampered, upbringing. Section two depicts the artist of popular imagination, rich with idiosyncrasies: his piano chair with its sawed-off legs, his penchant for soaking his arms and hands in warm water, the heavy clothing he wore year-round. At the age of 17 he first performed in a studio for the CBC. He discovered "that in the privacy, the solitude of the studio, it was possible to make music in a more direct, more personal manner than any concert hall would ever permit." The studio, where Gould spent the majority of his career, is represented in part three. The final section, "Envoi," is a short series of photos showing the apartment and studio Gould left behind as well as four final moody shots of the artist. Fans will certainly appreciate this veil-lifting look at one of the greatest musical minds of the 20th century. --Moe Berg
From Publishers Weekly
Master cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Pulitzer Prize–winning music critic Page (The Glenn Gould Reader
) provide the text for this large-format collection of photographs assembled by publisher Lester, former manager of the Glenn Gould Foundation and current literary adviser to the Glenn Gould Estate. Arranged more or less chronologically, these pictures span the entirety of Gould's brief life (1932–1982) and provide a unique perspective into his creativity as a pianist, composer and recording artist. The book is divided into four sections: in Overture, childhood snapshots reveal the growth of a keyboard prodigy; Bursting Forth soars with early accolades and triumphant tours; New Horizons depicts the mid-1960s, when Gould abandoned concerts to explore the possibilities of the recording studio; and Envoi uses scenes of his silent studio to depict his death, an age 50 finale. As the pictorial parade marches on, the result is like watching an old 16mm documentary film unspool, and Gould's fervor, evident in the photos, is amplified in attractive, appealing layouts. (Sept.)
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