WONDROUS STRANGE: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould

Kevin Bazzana, Author . Oxford Univ. $35 (528p) ISBN 978-0-19-517440-3

More than two decades after his death at the age of 50, Glenn Gould remains one of the most famous (and in some circles controversial) pianists of the 20th century. Bazzana, who previously wrote a musicological study of Gould's technique, broadens his focus to encompass the performer's brief life in an engaging biography that will captivate classical music lovers and casual listeners alike. Nimble analysis explores the influences of various composers on Gould's playing style while avoiding technical jargon. More importantly Bazzana portrays Gould as a vivid, engaging personality—no mean feat considering his subject withdrew from the concert stage in 1964 and spent the following 18 years addressing the public only through studio recordings and other electronic media. Bazzana confronts all the major clichés that have built up around Gould's history and then makes a persuasive argument against considering them as an indication of mental illness, suggesting that eccentricities like refusing to shake hands and sitting in a custom-designed piano chair were for the most part no more unusual than the habits adopted by any dedicated artist. He also provides ample evidence that the most widely spread stories obscure how resolutely normal Gould was (and, one repeatedly discovers, utterly and charmingly Canadian). For those who already love Gould's performances with all his extraneous noises, this biography provides welcome and equal insight into his life and music, while anyone new to the subject may not even want to wait until finishing the book to run out and buy their first CD. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 536 pages - 978-1-55199-287-7
Paperback - 536 pages - 978-0-300-11673-1
Hardcover - 536 pages - 978-0-7710-1101-6
Paperback - 536 pages - 978-0-7710-1117-7
Hardcover - 536 pages - 978-0-300-10374-8
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-0-19-518246-0
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