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GG has Left the Building (selections)

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Glenn Gould has left the building."
By Robert Fulford
Saturday Night, September 1992

** Robert Fulford was the editor of Saturday Night for nineteen
years, from 1968 to 1987.  A distinguished author, teacher, and
contributor to numerous Canadian and international publications,
he is (was?) also a weekly columnist for the Financial Times of
Canada. **

A few small excerpts....


If a Gouldonian is someone whose life was changed by Glenn,
then I was a pioneer Gouldonian.  We became friends in a
Toronto public school, lived next door in the Beach district for
many years, and remained close until late in our twenties.  I loved
him and admired him, and especially relished his sense of humour.
As Thomas Bernhard's narrator says, "Somone who cannot laugh
isn't to be taken seriously, someone who cannot laugh as Glenn
can laugh is not to be taken as seriously as Glenn."  I can still
hear that laugh, as he described a musician or critic he found
preposterous.  But I didn't understand until a few years ago how
much Glenn had shaped me.  I think now that certain aspects of
my character were encouraged in me, or perhaps implanted in me,
by the young Glenn Gould.  There was a relentless, heaven-
storming audacity about him; he was ambitious in the best
possible sense.  He was unpretentious (he never claimed to know
anything he didn't), but he saw no limits to the thinking he might
conceivably do, the understanding he might reach, the connections
between ideas he might make.  Some of this rubbed off on me -
not enough, but some.  I found myself trying to explain it last
winter when I was interviewed for the Bulletin of the Glenn Gould
Society, an impressive-looking semi-annual published in the

"I realize now when I'm talking to someone - a colleague, a friend,
a student of mine - asking them to enlarge their perspective and
avoid being limited by immediate circumstances, to think in a
large historical sense...sometimes there is a little sound at the
back of my mind.  That is Glenn practising the piano in the house
next door to me.  And I realize the person I'm talking to has a
problem understaning this vision I'm trying I'm trying to impart.
The problem they have is that they did not grow  up next door to
Glenn Gould."


Gould devotees ... They were the kind of I-must-know-everything
enthusiasts that Du, a handsome Swiss picture magazine, was
appealing to when it devoted its entire April, 1990, issue to what
the coverline called "Mythos Glenn Gould."  Along with several
articles, Du published new pictures of Gould-haunted sites in
Toronto; one huge photo simply showed a stretch of Highway 400
because Gould often drove it.

A Toronto record merchant, Harmik Grigorian, recently visiting
his native country, Armenia, discovered that Armenian musicians
take Gould even more seriously than Canadians do.  "When they
spoke of pianists, Glenn Gould was a god," Grigorian reports.  In
his Yorkville record store, L'Atelier Grigorian, he's long since
become accustomed to dealing with fanatical Gould collectors
from all over the world - "There is no day that we don't sell Glenn
Gould or discuss Glenn Gould" - but even Grigorian was
astonished by the reverence he found among Armenian pianists.
"In every room you would see a photo of Gould.  For them he's a
mystery.  They imagine him as someone from a different world
and they want to enter that world."


Against its will the National Library has become not only the
headquarters for Gould academic research but also a shrine where
pilgrims come in hopes of verenating the relics.  Willis has
noticed that some people want access to the papers not to read
them but merely to touch something that Gould once touched.
That's not the legitimate function of a library, in Willis's view,
and he looks forward to the day when some institution in Toronto
will set up a Gould museum and divert those customers from his


His playing, of course, was (and is) far more important, and like
all great playing remains impossible to describe.  His admirers
agree, however,  that he listened freshly to music and played as
though he were reinventing it.  My own feelings swell to special
heights of gratitude when I hear him play something immensely
complicated - above all a polyphonic work by Bach - and realize
through his genius for clarity he has made it so eloquently simple
that even I can understand (or believe I understand) what is going
on.  The English critic Nicholas Spice, in a recent article about
Gould, set down what seems to me the best of all possible one-
sentence tributes to him:  "He delivers the music to us as someone
might place in our hands a fragile and priceless object which he
loved beyond anything else."


I might add these excerpts to my Glenn Gould web page