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Re: More thoughts on GG as "non-composer"

On Sat, 1 Feb 1997, Kristen Immoor wrote:

>         While I can scarcely imagine that Gould would have ever revised
>a work because he perceived it to be too difficult for a pianist to play,
>and I think that to receive negative public/critics' opinion would have
>dissuaded him from composing altogether, I can definitely imagine that,
>were he to have become a composer, he would have been constantly revising
>his works for personal reasons. I think that every time he "discovered" a
>new tempo or color he would immediately see how it could have improved one
>of his compositions and would have no qualms about making a revision, much
>the way he felt compelled to remake the Goldbergs. 
>         I am not a composer, but I think the concept of "finished" must
>be far more nebulous for composition than for interpretation and would
>have been harder for Gould to have reached. To compose seems far more
>emotional and personal, and the urge to "find one's own voice" is
>constantly emphasised - something Gould doubted his ability to do. Perhaps
>he would have put his compositions under constant scrutiny, trying to cull
>out anything that could possibly have been considered derivative. They'd
>never be done! My guess is that the only reason GG's existing compositions
>went unrevised was because he lost interest in them, or perhaps assumed
>they were insignificant enough to be forgotten in light of his more
>popular radio compositions.

My guess is that he was too busy writing essays and working on other
projects to devote much energy to composition.  Looking at the stuff in
the _Glenn Gould Reader_ and the _Selected Letters_, I think his writings
are at least as much "compositions" as his radio docs.  (That's the main
reason I don't compose much myself these days: too busy writing with words
all day in my job and correspondence; feels as if it uses same brain
processes that would have gone to inventing music.) Who says there's much
distinction between composing with words vs composing with notes?  

And think what GG might have come up with essay-wise if he had ever used a
word processor, or at least learned to type!  And if he'd composed on MIDI
which makes notation and revision easier.... 

In a browse through MusicBlvd.Com today I noticed that the original
Columbia recording of GG's string quartet is finally due out on CD this
month.  That's good news...I've always liked that recording better than
the remake that's on "Glenn Gould the Composer."  More focused and
energetic, I guess, or maybe it's just because I heard it first.  The
college radio station where I worked had both that quartet album and the
Enoch Arden, and I never knew how rare those LP's were! 

             Quartet String No. 1; Quintet Violin; Aubade 
             Glenn Gould Dmitri Shostakovich Francis Poulenc 
             (Sony #52679 ) 
             Performers  Glenn Gould  BENSON-GUY  DARIAN  GRAMM 
             Orchestra(s)  SYMPHONIA STRING QUARTET 
             Scheduled for Release on 02/25/97 

Bradley Lehman, bpl@umich.edu       http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/  
"It doesn't really matter if the color's exactly right 
   if the picture feels right when you finish the print." - G. O'K.