Friday, November 19, 2010

Read It: Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould by Kevin Bazzana

It is a mistake to travel by ferry from Vancouver to Victoria without a book. But, having awoken at 5:30 on Thursday morning, my brain was not at full capacity and my book accidentally stayed behind. A quick trip to Munro's (oh, Munro's!) fixed that problem, and I discovered two books, the first of which is this lovely tome about Mr. Gould:

This book is so thoroughly researched and so highly entertaining I could hardly put it down to compose this blog post. The initial pages are filled to the brim with key details from Gould's childhood in Toronto, which, author Kevin Bazzana argues, greatly informed the pianist Gould would become.

I was drawn to the book because I hope it might improve my attitude toward playing Bach (which, to my own surprise, has not changed much since I was a child - old habits die hard, it seems). Among the fascinating facts I've learned so far:

1. Gould's legacy is impressive. But, in spite of his staggering record sales, cult status, and the fact that he has served as artistic inspiration for a truly remarkable number of composers, poets, filmmakers and writers, he has never appeared on a Canadian stamp on the grounds that he is too eccentric.

2. "Gould Tourism," so-called by Mr. Bazzana, involves pilgrimages to various Toronto sites associated with Gould, including his childhood home, schools, churches and diners.

3. Gould often misspelled his own first name, claiming that when he began to write the second "n," he couldn't help but also write a third.

4. He hated bright colours (especially red), but his favourites were "battleship grey and midnight blue."1

1. Bazzana, Kevin. Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould. Toronto: McLellan & Stewart Ltd. 31.