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Glenn Gould Reader Paperback – September 12, 1990

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 12, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679731350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679731351
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tiemann on October 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Appreciation of Glenn Gould's towering genius came late to me, but now that it has, I would be bereft without this book as my companion.

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.
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Artur Nowak on September 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Glenn Gould was one of the best piano players ever. But he not only achieved the highest level of virtuosity, he re-invented the music of Bach and other composers. He was not only faster than other musicians (as this is the trivial criteria of virtuosity), every of his interpretations contains a thought beyond the music. This book shows the world of Gould's thoughts beyond the music. It's almost pure philosophy of art, almost, because Gould doesn't want to create complex system, his points are straight. Two examples:
- "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.
5) Miscellany.
Sometimes it requires quite good musical background and education, as Gould lets the music speak for itself, on paper, by reproducing notes.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Shannon W. Mack (megamack43@hotmail.com) on July 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Glenn Gould has occassionally been accused of being different just for the sake of being different. I believe this was not the case. Everything he did had a clear motive and this book lays out most of these motives. Besides being entertaining and stimulating reading, the Glenn Gould Reader contains a peek into the brilliant mind of the genius who created some of the greatest recordings of piano music of all time.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Cabarga on July 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
First let's put Glenn Gould in context. The rise of the Romantic style in the 19th century overwhelmed the Classical style in terms of instrumental and orchestral playing. Increased dynamic range, freedom of phrasing (rubato), went wild in the Romantic period, became ingrained and nearly impossible to counteract. It was thought to be "expressive," but easily tended to "wretched excess." But the Romantic composers made much great music, which tended to validate the style and make it even more difficult to reject. The Classical style, which embodied ideals of restraint and intellectualism were put aside. Classical music tends to be spiritual and abstract; Romanticism, worldly and programatic.

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.
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