132 – Technology and the artist: Glenn Gould in the studio

“The justification of art is the internal combustion that ignites in the hearts of men and not its superficial and external public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline, but is, rather, the gradual construction and a permanent state of wonder and serenity “. -Glen Gould

One of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century, Glenn Gould shocked the world at the age of thirty-one when he announced his definitive retirement from public performances. Denouncing the concert hall as a relative of the Roman Colosseum and the audience as a “force of evil”, for the sake of his artistic integrity and sanity he devoted the rest of his musical life to studio recording.

Gould’s brilliant and sometimes provocative interpretations of classical masterpieces are well known, especially his unrivaled Bach recordings. But he was also a prolific, articulate and no less provocative critic. In essays such as “The perspectives of recording”, he has exposed his philosophy of performance, of the relationship between technology and music.

He described his experimentation with unconventional recording techniques and made bold and often accurate predictions about how recording technology would change the way the average person would relate to music. And she has openly rejected many of the stagnant conventions of contemporary classical performance.

In this episode, Thomas discusses Gould’s fascinating (and often funny) views on music and technology and plays some of his recordings. If you’ve never heard Gould play, you’re missing out. If you have, you will find this episode even more interesting.

Songs played in this episode (all played by Glenn Gould):

JS Bach, Well-Tempered Harpsichord, Book I: Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in C Sharp Major, Fugue No. 20 in A Major, Prelude No. 21 in B-Flat Major

Bach, Inventions in two and three parts: Invention n.12 in A major, Symphony n.5 in E flat major, Symphony n.9 in F minor

Brahms, Intermezzo no. 2 in A major, op. 118

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5, IV Allegro, transcription for piano by Franz Liszt

Thomas Mirus’ 2011 essay “Glenn Gould in the Studio” https://thomasmirus.com/2013/05/20/glenn-gould-in-the-studio

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