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Re: GG: Timothy Maloney interview -- world first for f-minor

Hello All,

Three out of seven responses asked for the interview in one go, so here 
it is. Many thanks to all who responded.

Thanks once again to Tim Maloney, and to Andrew Ford and all at ABC's The 
Music Show, without whom this posting would not exist. The Show is always 
interesting -- pity it's not available outside Australia, although you 
can read about it at:


I hope you all enjoy the full interview as much as I did. Best regards to 

Tim Conway
Broome, WA, Oz


Glenn Gould ? the Timothy Maloney (TM) interview on the ABC¹s The Music 
Show on Saturday 9th October 1999, producers Maureen Cooney and Penny 
Lomax. The interviewer is Andrew Ford (AF).

[Piano music fades away]

AF:	They were the third, fourth and fifth of the Goldberg Variations by 
Bach, recorded in 1981 by Glenn Gould. They were the piece that had made 
Gould almost a household name overnight in the mid-1950s with his 
original Columbia recording, and then he recorded it again, and a lot of 
people think it¹s the last recording he made, which is not quite true, 
it¹s not even the last piano recording he made, but the very last 
recording that Glenn Gould made was as a conductor, music by Wagner, and 
I have sitting with me in the studio now a man who played on that 
recording, Timothy Maloney. Welcome to The Music Show.

TM:	Thank you so much.

AF:	Timothy Maloney is the director of the music division, research and 
information, of the National Library of Canada, and I guess he...you¹re 
actually responsible for overseeing the Gould archive, are you?

TM:	I am, exactly.

AF:	Right. The reason that we wanted to talk to you today is because of 
the theory which has been around for a few years now that Gould had a 
particular disease. In Peter F Ostwald¹s book, Glenn Gould -- The Ecstasy 
and Tragedy of Genius, he quotes Gould¹s father describing Gould as a 
baby humming instead of crying (I¹m sure a lot of mothers out there would 
wish they had one like that), constantly fluttering his fingers and 
flapping his arms around, and Ostwald said this could possibly be 
interpreted as a form of infantile autism, except that obviously if Gould 
had been autistic he would never have been able to achieve all of the 
things he did achieve, and instead Ostwald punts for this thing called 
Asperger¹s Syndrome, which I have to confess I hadn¹t heard of until 
then, and you have followed this up.

TM:	I have...

AF:	Is it connected to autism?

TM:	Ostwald calls it a variant of autism, and one of the main elements in 
which it varies from autism is that the onset of symptoms is typically 
later, whereas the classic autism comes on as an infant and it¹s pretty 
obvious early on that there are developmental problems in a child with 
classic autism. But with Gould many of these symptoms became only visible 
or...or perceived as he entered his young adulthood (and perhaps a little 
earlier) but many of his so-called eccentricities became more pronounced 
during adulthood.

AF:	And these were as a result of the Asperger¹s Syndrome, do you think?

TM:	I think it all fits the pattern, as far as I¹m concerned. Now I must 
confess I¹m not a medical professional...

AF:	So what would some of these characteristics be?

TM:	Well, I gave a talk recently in Toronto at a big Gould conference, 
and I had very limited time because I was on a panel with other people, 
so I went down a very quick list of traits -- characteristics -- of the 
disease and made a few notes about each, and then mentioned how I felt 
Gould...how they applied to Gould. So, among the traits:

**	an inability to interact normally with other humans;
**	intolerance to change;
**	a prodigious memory;
**	amazing powers of concentration;
**	remarkable talents (many times);
**	elaborate rituals and routines that such people go through;
**	some physical clumsiness;
** some stereotyped movements (we can come back and discuss these in more 

AF:	Mmm.

TM:	**	...unusual responses to sensory stimuli, and unusual 
preoccupations or obsessions;
**	intellectual curiosity coupled with what I call moral severity, and
**	inability to take criticism.

	There are numerous others but those are the ones that I dealt with.

AF:	Well, they all seem to apply to Gould, don¹t they? -- every single 
one of those things.

TM:	Indeed. For me, the more I read about Asperger¹s Syndrome the more 
moments of ³aha!² I had and it just fit Gould to a T. Not only that but 
it wraps it all up -- all of the eccentricities and things for which he 
has, I think, suffered greatly at the hands of critics and even fans over 
the years. All of it seems to fall under one or another of these 
characteristic traits of Asperger¹s Syndrome.

AF:	How might this have affected the actual music-making that, you know, 
the...the playing that he is famous for, the kind of playing that we¹ve 
just heard, apart from the fact that, clearly, nearly fifty years after 
being a baby he was still humming.

TM:	Well, funny you should ask. Among the characteristics of sufferers of 
Asperger¹s Syndrome is an ability, for example, to see the structure in 
things that absorb them and things that grab their attention. For 
example, among the superior talents of many people with Asperger¹s 
Syndrome are either computational abilities, wonderful in math, 
just...you know, like the character in the Rainman movie, the Dustin 
Hoffman character, who could count playing cards, multiple decks at a 
time and made a lot of money for his brother. Other kinds of talents 
include musical or artistic. There are case studies of young Asperger¹s 
sufferers who, upon glancing at a very detailed diagram or a large 
full-scale view such as a cityscape or the Grand Canyon, can then render 
it absolutely beautifully in a drawing within minutes thereafter. Never 
having taken any art lessons in their lives, they can retain it in all 
its detail for years thereafter, and so there is this ability on the one 
hand to -- at a glance -- absorb it all, and at the other hand to keep it 

	With Gould, he picked a certain kind of music as his principal music. It 
was largely the contrapuntal music, Bach being his favourite, but 
Schönberg, Hindemith, even Strauss, wrote a lot of contrapuntal music -- 
others [were] Krenek, et cetera -- so it was music of a certain type, 
highly constructed and very clear structures involved and he could absorb 
all this at once, and he could talk about these pieces. 

	If you¹ve ever heard any of the radio programmes or the television 
interviews, say with Humphrey Burton, or with Bruno Monsaingeon in 
Paris...he could go to the piano and illustrate anything at any moment, 
you know the...some kind of a contrapuntal effect or a fugal effect in 
any of the partitas, or fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, et cetera, 
it was all in his head forever. So he concentrated very heavily on the 
structure of these things. I think he intuited them, as he played, as he 
studied them beforehand...and, they stayed with him. And, of course, he 
concentrated on that in his renditions of them. He was a structural 
pianist; he concentrated very much on the structure of the pieces, and 
rendered them in that way. He tended not to do the flowing sort of 
romantic tradition of piano playing, which often ignored structure or 
played games with it. And so, again, he fit that pattern to a T.

AF:	And indeed he had kind of strong, forceful, not to say wilfully odd 
opinions about a lot of the music that he played...and didn¹t play as 
well. I mean, he said that Beethoven was the only composer in history 
whose reputation depended almost entirely upon gossip, and that Mozart 
should have died earlier.

TM:	Indeed, yes. He was unkind to -- particularly -- Mozart, and his 
recordings of late Mozart and late Beethoven, of course, were the ones 
that gathered him absolutely the worst criticisms. I think it was his 
second commercial disk in the 1950s, the three last sonatas of Beethoven, 
and he was trashed for them. And perhaps justifiably so -- he had very 
strange ideas. But this was not -- how can I call it? --  this was not 
only contrapuntal music. Naturally, both of those composers turned to 
contrapuntal structures more in their later years than before, but it 
wasn¹t the clear structure of Bach, and so there was a more linear 
quality to it and, funnily enough, people with Asperger¹s have much more 
difficulty in absorbing and appreciating things in a linear manner or in 
a sequential manner.

	There is one very high-functioning autistic person who¹s written a lot 
about her experiences, et cetera, who says, for example, that Shakespeare 
never made any sense to her. It was far too sequential and too many 
things were going on. She can absorb and understand a Gothic romance, a 
very simple straightforward novel, but anything with a lot of ins and 
outs and characters coming in and leaving again, et cetera, she has 
trouble with. And I suspect that Gould, who was...well, he had great 
difficulty, for example, with sonata form; he thought it was highly 
over-rated, for example. Well, this is a more sequential kind of form -- 
it¹s not all of that information being put out instantly through all the 
voices in a contrapuntal manner that one finds in Bach or in Hindemith or 
in Schönberg.

AF:	That¹s very interesting. Gould, of course, retired from giving 
concerts in 1964 -- I think most people know that about Glenn Gould, that 
he retreated into the recording studio. He was intending -- he announced 
-- that after his fiftieth birthday he would actually give up playing the 
piano completely, and of course in a sense he did because he died just 
after his fiftieth birthday, so he didn¹t play the piano any more, but he 
was going to become a conductor...

TM:	Yes.

AF:	...at that point, and then he¹d also said that after doing that for a 
while he would give up the conducting and concentrate on composing and 
writing. Alas, of course, he didn¹t make it that far, but he did conduct 
for one recording and you played at it. I think perhaps we should listen 
to a little bit of the music before we talk about that. It¹s music by 
Wagner, it¹s the Siegried Idyll, and it is one of the slo...no, it is the 
slowest performance ever recorded of this piece.

[The Siegfried Idyll is played. It fades out after a few minutes.]

AF:	Members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Glenn Gould in 
the slowest-ever recording of Wagner¹s Siegfried Idyll and it was made, 
really, just weeks before Gould¹s death. It was his debut as a conductor 
in the recording studio and it was also his very last recording, and 
playing first clarinet there was Timothy Maloney. Timothy, can you tell 
me... Can you describe the occasion? What do you remember of it?

TM:	Oh, quite a lot. How much time have we got? [Laughter]. It happened 
over the course of three evenings in the summer of...end of July, early 
August, in Toronto. It was taped in an old historic building in downtown, 
called the St Lawrence Hall, and in fact we joked about a name for the 
ensemble when things were getting late and we were going into overtime 
and everybody was tired and... Gould had some of the best ideas, of 
course. He was a wonderful wit. And so one of his, I think, very fine 
ideas for a name for the group was the Academy of St Lawrence in the 
Market because it was right near the marketplace in Toronto.

	Anyway, he arrived each evening in a long stretch-limo driven by an 
associate, and he would emerge looking like the male equivalent of a 
bag-lady: layers of shapeless clothing on, multiple jackets, multiple 
shirts, multiple pants held up with rope, carrying a big green garbage 
bag with his score and pens and paraphernalia in it. As the evening wore 
on he would shed layers of clothing. But: he was animated, he was 
resourceful, he was in control of the whole thing, both from the point of 
view of recording levels and the music and the bowings and the breathings 
and...everything. He was sharp.

	He looked ghastly. I remember remarking to myself... I had seen him 
years before on the street in Toronto one time but I had never met him, 
had never been in close quarters with him for any length of time, so this 
was my first real meeting with Glenn Gould, [in the] summer of ?82, and 
the first night I laid eyes on him I said, ³My God, that man does not 
look well². He was absolutely pale. He had never been in the sun for 
years. He was a night person, and he was hunch-shouldered, and paunchy, 
and balding and absolutely pasty-faced and he looked just like death 
warmed-over. He certainly had energy during those few evenings we were 
together, but within months thereafter he was dead.

	The actual music-making was of the highest order. It was clear that... I 
think all of the musicians in the room realised that, you know, they 
were...this was a special event and they were in the room with greatness 
with this man. And no matter how eccentric he might appear, we all 
focussed on the job at hand -- we were happy to. He was a joy to work 
with, and it was quite special.

AF:	Did he explain to the players why his interpretation of this piece 
was so slow?

TM:	No.

AF:	Do you think it was anything to do...I mean, because you said he knew 
all about the breathing and bowing... I mean there would have to be a lot 
more bowing and breathing than usual in this piece because of the tempo.

TM:	Indeed.

AF:	I mean, there¹s a famously-long second-horn note in this piece which 
goes on for pages, and even if you play the piece at a normal tempo it¹s 
almost impossible for the horn player to do it. But a horn player would 
clearly have breathed in a couple of places to get that -- in the middle 
of the note! -- so Gould must have been aware of that. Do you think he 
was trying to inject more kind of punctuation into the music?

TM:	[Sighs] I honestly can¹t say. I do know that he had a penchant for 
playing pieces that he found particularly interesting as slow as he 
possibly could and, conversely, pieces in which he had little interest  
he would race through and dash them off, and it was just one of these 
perverse qualities of the man. We definitely had to find new places to 
breathe in our lines; the strings definitely had to find new places to 
change bowings, change direction in bowings, and in some cases try to 
make it as surreptitious as they could, so it did impose new problems on 
us. Absolutely.

AF:	Well, you talked earlier about Asperger¹s Syndrome. As diseases go it 
sounds like quite a good one to have.

TM:	Well, the powers of concentration and memory, and the intuitive 
ability to understand the structures behind whatever one is concentrating 
on, whatever is one¹s focus or main interest -- it¹s definitely a gift, 
and there are other Asperger¹s sufferers or reputed Asperger¹s sufferers 
who have also gone on to do great things, and these include: Bartok -- 
the composer, Bela Bartok; Alfred Einstein is widely considered by the 
Asperger¹s and autistic community to have been an Asperger¹s sufferer; 
Vladimir Nabokov, the novelist; and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein 
-- all of these people had many of the same kinds of symptoms as Gould 
and they went on, of course, to do wonderful things in their domains. So 
they have a focus, they have a mental acuity which many of the rest of 
us, no matter how well we do in our chosen fields, can only hope to 
approximate, and perhaps, though there are deficits in some parts of 
their make-up, there are these tremendous advantages in others.

AF:	Timothy Maloney, thank you very much for coming on The Music Show,...

TM:	My pleasure.

AF:	...it¹s been a very interesting conversation. Timothy Maloney is the 
director of the music division of the National Library of Canada. He¹s 
actually in Australia at the moment because this afternoon he is 
addressing the Music Council of Australia in Sydney on the matter of 
arts-funding in Canada, which I imagine is as parlous as it is here. 
Thank you very much for coming in.

TM:	Thanks for having me.

[Blurb for next week¹s interview, then programme ends with Gould playing 
the final movement of Prokofiev¹s 7th piano sonata]