Poll: Was Glenn Gould a Visionary or an Eccentric?

Email a Friend

Is there really more to say about Glenn Gould?

The answer in the autumn of 2012 appears to be a resounding yes.

Although the life and art of the late Canadian pianist has been dealt with exhaustively, the 80th anniversary of his birth on Tuesday, Sept. 25, brings a flood of new commemorative material. There are tribute recordingsbooks, record reissues, DVDs, magazine and newspaper articles, and more.

Certainly, Gould remains one of classical music’s most fascinating and enigmatic characters. Putting aside his personal quirks (wearing heavy coats and scarves in July, sitting on a 14-inch-high piano chair) his performances were utterly distinctive. There was a clarity and precision in his playing, but also a frequent humming when he played. He made two pivotal recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations (see below) but ignored other pillars of the repertoire. In 1964, he abandoned the concert platform altogether so he could concentrate on studio recording and other projects. He died in 1982 at age 50.

We at WQXR are not resistant to the fascination with Gould. Next Tuesday, his legacy will be the subject of our discussion show, Conducting Business.

In the meantime, we'd like to hear from you: What do you think is Gould's true significance? Is he overrated? And who has inherited his mantle? Please take our poll and leave a comment below: