Glenn Gould: Al maestro cuchillada

Glenn Gould biography sets the performer in a social and historical context

Not long before he [ Alberto Guerrero ] died, in 1959, from complications following a routine hernia operation, his daughter Melisande showed him a published article in which Gould had made some depreciating remarks about his teacher. She was angry, but Guerrero was sanguine: that was just how it should be. “Al maestro cuchillada” he said to her – “To the teacher goes the knife.” Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould by Kevin Bazzana.

Alberto Guerrero sounds like something from a Borges story, except that he was Chillean and not from Argentina. He seems to me to be one of those individuals who acts as a conduit for ‘old world’ culture in a ‘new’ society, but so the new society can take what is good and leave the dross behind. Bazzana’s biography of Gould is well argued and is putting Gould in his cultural and historical context without minimising the performer’s huge technical capacity. A more considered review when I have time to read the rest.

Note: I bought Bazzana’s book and a copy of the Sony re-issue of Gould’s 1955 and 1981 recordings of the Goldberg Variations from shops in the centre of Birmingham on a whim having been able to examine the work at my leisure over coffee. There is a need for physcial shops sometimes!

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