THE GLENN GOULD READER Hardcover – 12 Nov 1984
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From the Back Cover
Whether Gould's subject is Boulez, Stokowski, Streisand, or his own highly individual thoughts on performance and creation of music, the reader will be caught up in his intensity, intelligence, passion and devotion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Tim Page is a professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1997 for his writings about music in the Washington Post. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Reader is ideal as a book to dip into, to sample and to savour. Some of his most amusing record sleeve notes are included, pieces about his music heros and heroines (the Stokowski Interview is particularly good) and much more besides.
The Reader then is one of Gould's most interesting legacies - the collected thoughts and views of a contraversial and much loved artist.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gould's virtuoso performances speak for themselves, but by clever design the 3-CD set A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations (1955 & 1981) included a radio interview that allows Gould to speak for himself. Listening to his incisive and insightful self-criticism, I regretted that his life and my awareness of it never overlapped. Happily, a collection of his playful, unorthodox, and thoroughly original ideas were committed to paper, and Tim Page has done a great service to his legacy by editing and collecting those papers into this rather substantial volume.
It is absolutely breath-taking the way that Glenn understood the implications of his preferred medium, the audio recording, and how that understanding presaged the free culture movement, and in particular, the Creative Commons. Consider this proposition from "Strauss and the Electronic Future": "[in] fact, implicit in electronic culture is an acceptance of the idea of multilevel participation in the creative process." In "The Prospects of Recording" Gould asserts "[it] would be a relatively simple matter, for instance, to grant the listener tape-edit options which he could exercise as his discretion. Indeed, a significant step in this direction might well result from that process by which it is now possible to disassociate the ratio of speed to pitch and in so doing ... truncate splice-segments of interpretations of the same work performed by different artists and recorded at different tempos." Twenty years before sampling, and thirty years before remix was a genre, Gould knew that it was only a matter of time and technology. And though he did not live to see that technology become mainstream, he writes manifestos of culture and philosophy, aesthetics and interpretation that give us a perfect view about what he would have thought about today's crisis of copyright versus culture.
Gould writes with such an intimate voice, so rich in imagery, precise in detail, tireless in explanation, fearless in argument (and the use of the parenthetical), that I feel as if I am having a late-night conversation over a bottle of red wine with the man himself. Or, more astonishingly, that I feel as if we are true friends.
So listen, and read. Read and listen. You may find yourself with a new friend, too.
- "The determination of the value of a work of art according to the information available about it is a most delinquent form of aesthetic appraisal"
- "The computer repositories file away the memories of mankind and leave us free to be inventive in spite of them"
Makes you think, huh?
The book contains dozens of short texts written during many years, and are grouped into few parts:
1) Music - about Art of Fugue of course, Goldberg Variations, Beethoven, Schoenberg and Mozart. Deep look into the music.
2) Performance - Gould gave up live performances and was accused for eccentrism There was a good reason beyond this decision, figure out why he did it.
3) Glenn Gould interviews Glenn Gould. What? Yes, his interviewers weren't good enough, so he conducted an interview with himself.
4) Media - how recording has changed the perception and performance of music, Gould's favourite radio with explanation of the "Idea of North" and "Latecomers", exceptionally original radio pieces by Gould, comparable with the XX century avant-garde. Radio as music.
Sometimes it requires quite good musical background and education, as Gould lets the music speak for itself, on paper, by reproducing notes. Sometimes it requires knowledge of this recordings, which he refers to. But most of it is about music per se, the universal language Gould mastered. Highly recommended to all people who believe in music.
Glenn Gould was born into this context, a man with classical instincts in the midst of a full-blown Romantic era. In other words, a duck badly out of water. The stage had been set by Franz Liszt himself, then Paderewski, Rachmaninoff, Rubenstein, Horowitz, etc. But Gould bravely and single-mindedly went his own way. He established no school of piano playing, had no followers. He eschewed public playing. His music--Bach, some Mozart, some Beethoven--and bits of various modern composers, was best produced in the recording studio where he could do perfect performances avoiding the hazards of concertizing. Gould wasn't energized by an audience. His inspiration was from within. His Bach was played entirely at one dynamic level with utter clarity and precision--no pedal.
His writing style in this book, is complex, heavy-textured, pedantic; but there is no denying his astonishing erudition. The book is full of his fascinating observations about music, musicians and composers. His writing validates his playing and his playing validates his writing.
He hated the Beatles, yet I think he and the Beatles unwittingly had a lot in common--as cultural phenomena, I mean. Gould and the Beatles were on top of their form and at the height of their popularity when they abruptly announced they would cease performing publicly, declaring the impersonal--and arguably "de-humanizing"--medium of recording to be the true art form of the present and future. In this collection Gould derisively calls the Beatles's "Strawberry Fields Forever" "Monteverdi played by a jug band", not realizing it was created much the same way that Gould explains (elsewhere in this collection) he was wont to create his own works: by splicing together radically different recorded snippets.
Also recommended: PENTATONIC SCALES FOR THE JAZZ-ROCK KEYBOARDIST by Jeff Burns.