[f_minor] les chaises (the chairs)
mmacelletti at sbcglobal.net
Sun Jan 19 11:32:58 MST 2014
Any new book we might be able to look forward to ?
Sent from my iPhone
> On Jan 18, 2014, at 4:07 PM, "Kevin Bazzana" <kevinbazzana at shaw.ca> wrote:
> I can contribute some additional information about the Gould chair(s).
> First, it is not merely a “legend” that Gould used only the one familiar chair after 1953: He said as much, and no photographic or documentary evidence or testimony really suggests otherwise. Lorne Tulk’s comments in the film were a complete surprise to me, but I don’t think they really change the basic situation. It has always been known that Gould and his manager made occasional good-faith efforts to find an alternative to the increasingly knackered chair over the years. As early as 1956, for instance, there was correspondence (now in the Library and Archives Canada) with two different companies, in Newmarket and Montreal, about constructing a new chair for Gould (at least one of them made of aluminum); Gould himself alluded to such efforts as well. Whether he actually ever used alternative chairs in concerts or recordings for any significant period of time is not documented, and Gould never suggested that he did—i.e., he never seems have done more than sample alternative chairs, none of which were ever right in the end (no pun intended). Lorne’s comment about Gould carrying two chairs around for a time is interesting—it’s something no one else ever reported seeing—though I don’t think this is something he could have witnessed at first hand: He is talking about GG’s concert years here, and he didn’t know Gould personally until after he had retired from concerts. Presumably he’s remembering something Gould told him? Or extrapolating from something Gould told him? Correctly? (Having written two biographies of artists recent enough to have living family members and friends and colleagues, I could tell you some real horror stories about the vagaries of human memory, even “reliable” first-hand memories …) Anyway, I don’t think Lorne’s revelation somehow topples a “legend.” It’s not news that Gould made efforts to find another chair, but ultimately there were only trivial exceptions to the rule that he used only the one chair for almost 30 years. I mean, there are some hastily staged photos of him sitting at a piano on other chairs, situations in which the chair was temporarily lost or damaged in transit during his concert days, etc.—but there’s no reason to believe that the “legend” about Gould’s One True Chair was false, or even exaggerated.
> Even if Lorne is correct that it was Gould’s father who fashioned the chair he displays in the film, it was not a mate to the “official” Gould chair—it’s similar, but clearly did not come from the same set. It has a different back (upholstered, rather than carved wood) and it’s beige rather than green, as Gould’s was. The “official” Gould chair did indeed come from a set of four folding bridge chairs, and in fact the identity of those chairs was revealed in 2012, when Music and Beyond, a festival in Ottawa, received a donation of an identical set of four chairs from the same maker and period. And so we now know that the set from which Gould’s chair derived was made in London, Ontario, by Hourd & Company, in the 1930s. The four chairs that Music and Beyond received were in excellent condition, and even had the original green leatherette seat covers. (The festival compared one of its donated chairs with the Gould chair in the Ottawa archives, confirming that they came from identical sets.)
> The Toronto musician and writer Colin Eatock was the first to report all this, on his blog, and he posted pictures for comparison: http://www.colineatock.com/1/post/2012/09/glenn-goulds-chair.html
> Music and Beyond subsequently put two of its chairs up for auction on E-bay (Sept. 15, 2012—Gould’s 80th birthday). E-bay gave the dimensions as follows, for what it’s worth:
> Back height: 32 ½ inches (82.55cm)
> Back width: 16 inches (40.64cm)
> Seat height: 17 inches (43.18cm)
> Seat depth: 16 inches (40.64cm)
> Seat diameter 20 inches (50.8cm)
> I don’t know what happened with that auction. The other two chairs from the donated set are presumably still with the Music and Beyond festival. Incidentally, around 2007, it was announced that a designer named René Bouchara had fashioned an exact replica of the Gould Chair, which an Italian furniture maker, Cazzaro, was selling for around 1,000 euros; I don’t know if that’s still for sale.
> I’ve queried Music and Beyond about their chairs (since their original page on the subject—linked by Eatock—has been taken down), and will report back if they have anything further to add to the above.
> Kevin Bazzana
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