Thursday, October 4, 2007

Glenn Gould Anniversary

Just this video will give you some sense of Glenn Gould's amazingly touching understanding of the music he performs. There he is, bent over the piano, murmuring to himself in a state of wonder. He is playing Bach BWV 828 - 3 - Courante. Go to YouTube and play everything Gould. Buy his Goldberg Variations. Listen religiously.

Glenn Gould died 25 years ago at the age of 50. He remains the classical genius of the century. Here is a wonderful piece by jazz pianist Jessica Williams on Gould along with her thoughts on "dead music." Her appreciation of Gould helps to illuminate the broader understanding of his importance and gift.

Then there is this from Toronto, Gould's home town. "Could there ever be another Glenn Gould?" It is hard to imagine. And then, I offer again my own April post on Gould and that adorable picture of him at the piano with his teacher. This post helps to explain some of the techniques Gould used.

Recent conjecture that Gould had Asperger Syndrome, explaining some of conditions that might relate to his curious eccentricities, does nothing, in my judgment, to diminish the full wonder of his talent. Genius is funny stuff. Try as we might, there is no way to fully understand it. I have to believe that genius does not arise from the norm, but, rather, from the ability to escape the norm. Most of us are trying so hard to be normal, we haven't a chance at being a genius. It may be that an innate disregard, for whatever reason, of the worth of being normal holds the most promise for a stab at genius. Gould had no fear of his oddness, but neither did he champion it in any way. He just was who he was.

All of this is not to say that the mystery of genius or Gould is simple. It is baffling. But when genius is manifest, one doesn't think about its origins, just its presence and astounding poise.

No comments: