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Glenn Gould

Biography

Glenn Gould (born Glenn Herbert Gould, September 25, 1932 – October 4, 1982) was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.

Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature and, after his adolescence, avoided Liszt, Schumann, and Chopin. Although his recordings were dominated by Bach, Gould's oeuvre was diverse, including works by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, pre-Baroque composers such as Jan Sweelinck, and such 20th-century composers as Paul Hindemith and Arnold Schoenberg. Gould was well known for various eccentricities, from his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard to aspects of his lifestyle and personal behavior. He stopped giving concerts at the age of 31 to concentrate on studio recording and other projects.

Gould is one of the most acclaimed 20th-century classical musicians. His unique pianistic method, insight into the architecture of compositions, and relatively free interpretation of scores created performances and recordings that were revelatory to many listeners while highly objectionable to others.

Gould left an extensive body of work beyond the keyboard. After his retirement from concert performance, he was increasingly interested in other media, including audio and film documentary and writing, through which he mused on aesthetics, composition, music history, and the effect of the electronic age on the consumption of media.

Gould was also known as a writer, composer, conductor, and broadcaster. He was a prolific contributor to musical journals, in which he discussed music theory and outlined his musical philosophy. His career as a composer was less distinguished. His output was minimal and many projects were left unfinished.

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