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Re: Gould - Saint-Saens

On Fri, 4 Apr 1997, gp wrote:

> Hi 
> I would like to know what was Gould's opinion on french composer
> Camille Saint-Saens.
> I know he made a highly ironic remark on Saint-Saens music when he said:
> "I love Saint-Saens, especially when he doesn't composes for the piano..."
> Beyond that ambiguous sentence, does anybody know what was his deep opinion
> on this composer?

     Is it possible that you are mixing Saint-Saens up with Tchaikovsky?
Glenn Gould made a comment about Tchaikovsky that was very similar to the
comment that you described: "I think Tchaikovsky was a great composer, one
it is now fashionable to dislike on all kinds of grounds of
sentimentality. But I think he was one of the great symphonic composers,
after Beethoven, and I love his music, but not his piano music."  
     I find it hard to imagine that Gould would appreciate any of
Saint-Saens music.  I think Saint-Saens would be condemned certainly for a
lack of profundity in his music (of course Gould would not couch it in
such banal terms) and also as a composer whose technique may have sbsumed
the importance of the music at times.  Also, there is Glenn's general
dislike of French music, which he took no pains to cover up.
     As far as the Burleske is concerned, I think it probably is just the
fact that it is Strauss's music that attracted Glenn, a desire to make the
work of a beloved composer well known.  The same for the Opus 3 pieces,
which really are salon music, but in Glenn's hands, are imbued with an
incredible emotional depth.  I hold back on saying the same of the Op. 5
Sonata, which I really see as the foreshadowings of Strauss's genius, with
its terrific sonorities and gorgeous slow-movement.  The harmonies just
haven't developed yet.