top of page
  • Writer's pictureLilium

Glenn Gould - Record Repertoire

Glenn Gould, born 25 September 1932, was a Canadian classical pianist. He was one of the most famous and celebrated pianists of the 20th century, and was renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Gould's playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and a capacity to articulate the contrapuntal texture of Bach's music.

Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and others, in favour of Bach and Beethoven mainly, along with some late-Romantic and modernist composers. Although his recordings were dominated by Bach and Beethoven, Gould's repertoire was diverse, including works by Mozart, Haydn, Scriabin, and Brahms; pre-Baroque composers such as Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, William Byrd, and Orlando Gibbons; and 20th-century composers including Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss. Gould was known for his eccentricities, from his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard to aspects of his lifestyle and behaviour. He stopped giving concerts at age 31 to concentrate on studio recording and other projects.

Gould was also a writer, broadcaster, composer and conductor. He was a prolific contributor to musical journals, in which he discussed music theory and outlined his musical philosophy. He performed on television and radio, and produced three musique concrète radio documentaries, the Solitude Trilogy, about isolated areas of Canada. Though known chiefly as a pianist, Gould capped off his musical career with a recording of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll as conductor.

An overwhelming amount has been written about Gould so I have chosen to include these two documentaries, Off the Record and the first part of three of Glenn Gould: A Portrait. The first of the two below has a wonderfully unusual rhythm for a documentary. "Gould enjoys a respite at his lakeside cottage. This is an aspect of Gould previously known only to the collie pacing beside him through the woods, the fishermen resting their oars to hear his piano, and fellow musicians like Franz Kraemer, with whom Gould talks of composition."


"This 1985 documentary is, in my opinion, better than anything that came after it. Here we have interviews with the people that really knew Glenn Gould, while their memories were fresh and vivid. For copyright reasons, I have had to mute two short portions of audio and blank out a portion of video. No spoken part is omitted. With Geoffrey Payzant, Russell Herbert Gould, John Peter Lee Roberts, Vincent Tovell, Margaret Pascu, Paul Hume, Nicholas Goldschmidt, Robert Fulford, Jessie Greig, and John Beckwith."




bottom of page