Thursday, May 31, 2007
I was a huge fan of Glenn Gould in my late twenties. I had just started to learn the piano, and went looking for recordings of Bach keyboard music because I enjoyed the "List A" pieces in my conservatory piano books.
I found something called the Goldberg Variations, and played it on the stereo one night when I was alone in a huge, empty house. Part-way through the recording I was frightened by the sounds of a male voice mumbling nearby. I got up and looked out the windows, peering into the blackness unable to see anything, my heart beating rapidly.
Then I realized that the "mumbling" was coming from the stereo speakers. I later read that Gould always sang as he played, and his singing is audible in all his studio recordings.
The Goldberg Variations (especially Gould's 1981 version) became one of my favorite works, and when my sister got married I suggested she use the quodlibet (variation 30) as her wedding march. (Listen to it here - scroll down to track 31)
I did a series of sketches of Gould performing at the piano, using videotapes of his recording sessions and TV shows. Gould was an eccentric musician, constantly swaying, rocking, and conducting himself with closed eyes as he played. There was something restless and driven about him, and I like this particular drawing because it seems to catch him in a freeze-frame.