[f_minor] non-genius without

Robert Merkin bobmerk at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 3 10:24:24 EST 2011

Hiya Michael,

During the Christmas season, my wife forces me to watch "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" dozens of times. Your comment about "The Genius Within" reminded me of the Grinch -- but without the last act, in which, by a miracle, the Grinch's heart expands several sizes, and he learns the true spirit of Christmas.

I don't exactly object to your negative comments. But even before "The Genius Within" was broadcast last week, some recent f_minor posts pointed out an important aspect of the passage of time -- a great deal of time -- and what it's done to the world's familiarity with and appreciation of Glenn Gould.

Glenn Gould no longer shocked us by dying, at age 50, yesterday or last year. He died in 1982. A whole generation has been born, studied, and learned to love keyboard music -- 

"Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." [Exodus 1:8]

We here on f_minor have spent decades accepting, without challenge, Glenn Gould's monopoly certainly of J.S. Bach. Others have no difficulty generalizing both his unchallenged mastery of keyboard technique regardless of composer. Others continue to be astonished by Glenn Gould's research and scholarship into past styles -- his guesses about the composer's interpretative wishes in the age before barrel organs, piano rolls and finally Edison recording.

But a lot of time has passed, and the f_minor community no longer "owns" classical keyboard music. We now live in a world of young heretics and blasphemers for whom Glenn Gould is just one of many talented keyboard artists. And many of his modern rivals do something wonderful which Glenn Gould refused, for most of his musical life, to do: They tour and play the piano for audiences, thus offering a thrill Glenn Gould, rightly or wrongly, denied the world.

Not a note of Glenn Gould's recorded music has changed or in any way degraded.

But the audience has changed -- naturally and yet radically. A pianist magically touches the human heart. That's why we're all here, because of Glenn Gould's magic on our hearts.

But since 1982, there have risen up new magicians, and audiences with new hearts.

I would not disagree with any of Michael's criticisms of "Genius Within." I praised it to the skies for the unexpected pleasure so much of it gave me -- the interviews with the Foss family, the ability to put faces and voices to dozens of women and men we've always known played huge roles in Glenn Gould's life. But "Genius Within" by no means has any claim as the finest piece of film or television that have chronicled Glenn Gould.

Rather, it's new, and has lots of new stuff in it. And thus it's of great value for young music lovers "which knew not Joseph." And f_minor -- at least the older among us -- have to fasten our seatbelts and prepare for the shock of a new world that either doesn't know who Glenn Gould was, or for whom Glenn Gould is just one pianist competing with a dozen younger pianists for the new world's ears and hearts.

Michael: Don't be such a Grinch. It was a lovely and valuable piece of documentary television, and did only good things for our guy. I got an e-mail the next day from a woman who isn't any kind of classical music expert, and she was fascinated at her first introduction to his music, his achievements, and his personality. Now she wants to buy his music and learn lots more about him.

As the teens say: It's all good.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: michael macelletti 
  To: f_minor at glenngould.org ; gail paynter 
  Sent: Monday, January 03, 2011 8:30 AM
  Subject: [f_minor] non-genius without

  last night ( really this morning, on vhs ) i finally got to view " genius within ". or the first part of it.   my one word  impression has to be nauseating. the only relief i got from the disgusting non-stop, pandering dialogue came when the satelite broke up the sound or picture. i could not stand watching, or worse, listening to it for more than forty minutes. if you're interested in gg on film, turn to ' on and off the record ', the complete gg edition on vhs, or even the alchemist. ( from which much of this was stolen.  along with the russian journey on vhs , which is just as bad for the same reason ) .  but, by all means, stay clear of this  film unless you have a high tolerance for posthumous  malarkey. 


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