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[F_minor] this morning's bit of glenn gould humor

I read this humorous letter in *Glenn Gould: Selected Letters* on the bus
this morning and found it utterly hilarious.


January 28, 1973
Mr. John P.L. Roberts

Dear Mr. Roberts:

Permit me to introduce myself: I am a young harpsichordist, and, as proof of
my modest ability, enclosed a critique of my disc debut. You may well ask,
dear sir, how I, an unknown, was selected for the signal honour of a C.B.C.
recording. The reason, though I shall endeavour to spare you the more
tiresome fiscal details, relates, alas, not to my artistry -- if I may so
term it -- but to my citizenship. Although a long-time resident of Canada, I
am officially 'registered' -- to borrow maritime jargon -- as an Andorran,
and the unusual circumstances surrounding my harpsichord debut were brought
about through the intercession of my great aunt, Elspeth-Yvonne who, for
many decades, as you perhaps know, has been an intimate of His Serene
Highness, the Grand Duke Willibald-Christoph.

Due to a balance-of-trade deficit incurred when the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency refused re-imbursement for some 120 Andorran passports
-- the production of which constitutes the major industry of my country --
on the unlikely pretense that essential, if invalid, data contained therein
was obscured by goat-milk stains, Andorra achieved an all-but-insurmountable
national debt of $223.20. (Perhaps I should point out that Andorran
passports, at bulk rate, are valued at $1.86 (U.S.)). Althoug the C.I.A.
refused compensation for what it unfairly described as 'damaged goods', the
U.S. government was understandably anxious to avoid an international
incident which, in all probability, would have resulted in an armed clash
and involved the full might of the Andorran military and, therefore, at the
inventive suggestion of aunt Elspeth-Yvonne, the undersigned was engaged to
commit to disc, on behalf of the U.S. firm, the aforementioned repertoire
described in the enclosed brochure. (In a calculation typical of American
Economic Imperialism, it was reckoned that, even if the record failed to
capture attention, and consequently royalties, in any foreign market, it
would as a mandatory purchase for all Andorrans, recoup the sum
above-mentioned before first pressing.)

In any event, dear sir, I have no wish to fatigue you with the details which
surround the production of the disc in question. The burden of this
memorandum, rather, is simply to bring your attention to the fact that, as a
long-time resident of Canada, my abilities on the harpsichord have gone
entirely untapped by the moguls of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Aunt Elseph-Yvonne has addressed herself to this subject in several recent,
and remarkably heated, letters to the undersigned and, in order to redress
this sad state of affairs, is threatening a state visit to Canada during
which, I fear, her penchant for publicity, as well as her capacity to
maintain hungerstrikes in the doorways of government buildings for
protracted periods, could not but cause you, dear sir, and your esteemed
associates, considerable embarrassment and inconvenience.

It occurred to me, therefore, that in order to forestall her proposed visit,
you could, by way of concession, present the undersigned in a series of
harpsichord recitals before campus audiences across the country. It is my
understanding that the C.B.C. music department sponsors a series of
so-called 'Celebrity Recitals' at such campuses, although I have been told
that the normal allocation is one such event per artist. However, I feel
confident that, with an international incident at stake, with aunt
Elspeth-Yvonne's dictum that 'once a celebrity, always a celebrity' in mind,
and particularly, in view of my own profound believe that, however expertly
manufactured, the recording is but a pale and artificial memento of the
concert experience, you will see fit to revise your policy for this occasion
and provide me with a suitable and extensive itinerary accordingly.

Finally, may I add that, although my prime loyalties are, of course, to the
culture of Andorra, and although it would be tempting indeed to prepare a
program containing exclusively of music by Andorran composers, I am given to
understanding that, in this country, you observe a rather quaint custom
known as 'Canadian content'. I should like you to know, therefore, that in
view of this regional peculiarity, I am prepared to forego my own repetoire
predilections and, where necessary, to amplify my instrument accordingly.
Indeed, out of respect for local sensibilities I have, in fact, prepared a
program which opens with my own harpsichord transcription of Oskar Morawetz'
First Symphony, continues with a similar transcription of Healey Willan's
Second Symphony and, as a grand finale, and utilizing the full range of
electronic capabilities at my comment, concludes with a superimposition of
the two compositions which, if I may modestly say so, includes many unique
harmonic effects.

To meet the needs of this repetoire, I have arranged to project the
harpsichord sonorities with an SAE 5000 watt quadrophonically-energized RMS
linear-phase amplifier (as approved by the E.B.U.) and to channel the sound
in four-point super-acrylic woofers and .0075 extended tweeters with
cast-aluminum acoustic-lenses for 90 degree high-frequency dispersion in
circular symmetry. These latter speakers, of my own design, (patents
pending) will be known as 'Voice of the Stadium' and have already received
the Stanley Horobin 'Seal of Good Studio-Kepping'.

I trust, dear sir, that this program proposal will merit your enthusiastic
approval and look forward to an early reply from your office. Rest assured
that, upon its receipt, I shall forward a copy of your reply along with a
placative memorandum of my own to aunt Elspeth-Yvonne.

Yours most sincerely,
G. Herbert Gould


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