Friday, April 6, 2007

Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould is always an interesting subject. A renowned and curious Canadian virtuoso. He had a formidable technique that enabled him to choose very fast tempos while retaining the separateness and clarity of each note. Part of the technique consisted of taking an extremely low position at the piano, which allowed him more control over the keyboard.

There is some evidence that Gould worked from a young age with his teacher Alberto Guerrero on a technique known as finger-tapping, a method of training the fingers to act more independently from movements of the arm. But it is at least clear in films of Gould's playing that he employed an outward motion of the fingers sometimes at key moments in passages, pushing the finger tip forward on a key to strike a note, rather than pressing it downwards or pulling it towards him.

Gould had many eccentricities, such as rocking and humming, isolation, difficulty with social interaction, and the uncanny focus and technical ability. Some attribute this to Asperger Syndrome ( which was not a defined disease in his time.) Others say there were ample psychological and emotional explanations for his eccentricities. At Clive Davis' blog, I came across this 1959 footage of a young Gould working out on the Bach Italian Concerto in a recording studio. The 1959 city footage is pretty nice. This is terrific.
(The still photo is of Gould and his teacher Guerrero)

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