[f_minor] Gould and problem-solving

Karl Brown kbrown at physics.carleton.ca
Fri Feb 22 09:07:01 MST 2013

Jorgen et al,

I concur, Katie Hafner's "A Romance on Three Legs" is a great read"

A question if I may ...

If Mr. Gould was such a perfectionist, then why did he accept the 
repeated "hiccups" (as named by Mr. Gould himself) on many of his 
Prior to noticing them, I was very content with many of his recordings, 
I especially love the clarity he brings to them etc. but since paying 
particular attention to and finding these hiccup's I find them to be 
unfortunate and as a result I am becoming uncomfortable (to be honest) 
and can't find a reason as to why Mr. Gould would have accepted them to 
be released as part of his recording.
I first noticed this while listening to his Scriabin/Prokofiev, Track 
#1, Scriabin, Dramatico @ 07:42. The hiccup is as clear as a bell yet he 
was accepting of it just the same.
Can someone provide an explanation?

Thanks in advance,


On 22-Feb-2013 9:37, jorgen.lundmark at mypost.se wrote:
> Hello Dvae,
> This is an interesting question. As in many cases Gould isn't exactly
> consistent in his view of the piano. Several times he writes about himself
> being a "musician" (or words to that effect) that just happens to play the
> piano. At the same time he looks for the ultimate instrument and works
> harder than most to get the right action and sound from the different
> pianos he's playing.
> The story about his Israeli tour (is that in the Cott interview book I
> wonder) is interesting; the instrument was terrible and in order to get
> the best results he imagined he was at home playing the Chickering. The
> dynamics was constricted as a result, but he was much more pleased with
> the result. So he did think about the practicalities of piano playing more
> than most pianists.
> In that context you have to take into consideration the very different
> sound the pianist hears and the sound which the audience hear. No doubt
> Gould with his great experience knew that difference, but I can't help
> wondering if he wasn't more concerned with what he himself heard and felt
> than what he thought was getting out into the hall. That is at least
> consistent with his view of the absurdity -- as far as musical contents go
> -- to play for the balcony, which is necessary in order to reach out in
> big concert halls. I suppose this would count for much of the changes in
> his playing -- the way it sounds -- after retiring.
> I recommend the excellent "A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's
> Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano" by Katie Hafner. It is a treasure
> trove of everything concerning Gould and pianos.
> I also believe that Gould wanted to distance himself from the very act of
> piano playing. There's this centipede metaphore problem: if you think too
> much of the very aspects of piano playing it might just make it impossible
> to make it work. Also, the very tradition of virtuoso piano playing with
> the artist as a conqueror of the hearts (more than the minds) of the
> public was the antithesis of his philosophy. Again, he did record and play
> contrary to these ideas; the Ravel "La Valse" is one example.
> I can't give you any exact quotes on any of the above subjects though.
> Someone else perhaps?
> Regards,
> Jorgen
>> Good morning all,
>>    One of the "32 films" has a voice-over describing the various pianos GG
>> had played on tour. At least one of the instruments had been so out of
>> whack that Gould wondered how the audience had tolerated it, and he said
>> something about 'not being that fond of the sounds a piano makes,' or
>> something to this effect. Unless my comprehension/memory are shot...
>>    This started me thinking: did Gould say or write much about how his
>> music was simply a means to an end? That playing the piano was nothing
>> more than the work needed to be done in order to get someplace he wanted
>> to go, metaphorically speaking?
>> Thanks,
>> Dave
>> From:maryellenjensen28 at hotmail.com
>> To:f_minor at glenngould.org
>> Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2013 23:51:20 +0100
>> Subject: [f_minor] Sartorial Interlude
>> "I can put him on for hours -- he's like nobody else," says Waters, who
>> owns 10 books on Gould, hunts for anecdotes on him and gives his CDs as
>> gifts. "He was the ultimate original -- a real outsider. And he had a
>> great style, the hats and the gloves and so on." - interview with John
>> Waters (Baltimore) for the NY Times August 2003.
>> The following is marvellous, from "Kempt" (who uses THAT word any
>> longer?!):
>> http://www.getkempt.com/icon/the-icon-glenn-gould.php
>> It's about time.
>> Mary


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