The Life and Art of Glenn Gould
Format: Trade Paperback, 536 pages
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-1117-7 (0-7710-1117-2)
Pub Date: March 1, 2005
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Winner of the 2005 Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography, awarded by ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)
The first major biography of Glenn Gould to stress the critical influence of the Canadian context on his life and art.
Glenn Gould was not, as has previously been suggested, an isolated and self-taught eccentric who burst out of nowhere onto the international musical scene in the mid-1950s. He was, says Kevin Bazzana in this fascinating new full-scale biography, very much a product of his time and place – and his entire life and diverse work reflect his Canadian heritage.
Bazzana, editor of the international Glenn Gould magazine, throws fresh light on this and many other aspects of Gould’s celebrated life as a pianist, writer, broadcaster, and composer. He portrays Gould’s upbringing in Toronto’s neighbourhood of The Beach in the 1930s, revealing the area’s influence as a distinct social, religious, and cultural milieu. He looks at the impact of Canadian radio on the young musician, his relations with the "new music" crowd in Toronto, and the ways in which his career was furthered by the extraordinary growth of Canada’s cultural institutions in the 1950s. He examines Gould’s place within the CBC "culture" of the 1960s and ‘70s, and his distinctly Canadian sense of humour.
Bazanna also reveals new information on Gould’s famous eccentricities, his sometimes bizarre stage manner, his highly selective repertoire, his control mania, his private and sexual life, his hypochondria, his romanticism, and his abrupt retirement from concert performance to communicate solely through electronic and print media. And finally, he takes a detailed look at the extraordinary phenomenon of the posthumous "life" that Gould and his work have enjoyed.
WINNER - Toronto Book Award
FINALIST - Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize
“The best account so far of [Gould’s] life: lucid, balanced, intelligent, and wide-ranging.… Bazzana concentrates on Gould’s Canadian origins. He investigates Gould’s medical history.… He analyzes Gould’s radio and television productions for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.… And he reviews the Gould discography in some detail.… [An] excellent book.”
–Michael Kimmelman, New York Review of Books
“Glenn Gould, idiosyncratic musician, glorious eccentric and classic hypochondriac, is a gift to a biographer, but this is not to belittle Kevin Bazzana’s achievement in this definitive study.… It is difficult to imagine a more absorbing, lively or honest book.”
–Philip Borg-Wheeler, Classical Music magazine
“There will be other books on Gould… but I doubt if there will be one that is more thorough and entertaining than this.”
–Angela Hewitt, Times Literary Supplement
“Gould was a mighty intellect and massive talent, asexual, contradictory, neurotic, inspired, narcissistic and quixotic by turns. Juicy meat for a biographer, and Kevin Bazzana has served him well. This is a beautifully produced, rigorously researched, detailed account of the Canadian’s life and career, welcoming to both the general reader and committed pianophile. The pages describing Gould’s musical credo are masterly.”
–Jeremy Nichols, Classic FM magazine
“Bazzana’s portrait–the most balanced yet–ingeniously provides contexts for Gould’s behavior.… Still, those for whom the eccentricities are half the fun will find endless delight in the meticulous accounts of Gould’s diet, hypochondria, and near-suicidal driving. ‘It’s true that I’ve driven through a number of red lights on occasion,’ he once said, ‘but on the other hand, I’ve stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it.’”
“[Gould’s] story is one of the most intriguing and incredible the country has to tell.… In a book bristling with interest and information, Bazzana comes as close as may be possible to capturing the essential Gould.… In Bazzana, the Gould legend has found an authoritative and stylish interpreter.”
–Nancy Schiefer, London Free Press
“Marvellously readable.… Bazzana removes the mystification, clarifying not only Gould’s drive and musical taste, but also what came to be regarded as his eccentricities.”
–Martin Knelman, Toronto Star
“A wonderfully intelligent and readable biography.”
–Kena Herod, Maisonneuve magazine
“[Kevin Bazzana’s] definitive new biography of Gould provides a remarkably balanced perspective on both the man and his music. Bazzana… has done an enormous amount of research. Above all, he has studied Gould's recordings, as well as his pioneering 'contrapuntal' radio and television documentaries. Bazzana elucidates Gould's musical ideas with clarity and elegance, underlining the humanity and sense of moral mission that permeates his work.… The revealing photographs are a welcome addition.”
“It may be a bit audacious to suggest that Kevin Bazzana's excellent new biography of Glenn Gould, Wondrous Strange, is in the Thayer [Life of Beethoven] league, but it does serve many of the same purposes.… His book is powerful and timely.… With his insistence on fairness, objectivity and deep respect for his subject, Bazzana helps us to unravel many of the complex conundrums that have been tightly wound around Gould for decades.… Bazzana has gone the extra biographical mile, thoroughly and scrupulously discovering the exact truth behind inevitably embellished stories. Not afraid to pass judgment when needed, in clear, lively prose, Bazzana wins his reader's respect and trust in page after page of well-researched biography.… Glenn Gould will always be an enigma, but thanks to Kevin Bazzana's excellent new biography, he is now something less of a mystery.”
–Robert Harris, Globe and Mail
"With 20 years of research, including interviews and access to previously private papers, behind him, Bazzana shines new light on eccentric pianist Gould. Basing his analysis of Gould's life and art in his early upbringing in Depression-era Toronto, he provides an original, thought-provoking take on the musical genius. Wondrous Strange is a compulsively readable piece of scholarship."
“An engaging and mellifluous book.”
–George fetherling, Vancouver Sun
“This may be the most thorough study of all on Gould’s ‘Canadian-ness,’ underpinning in both biographical detail and musical philosophy why Gould’s homeland was critical to all he was.… The most dogged Gouldians will find revelations throughout this book, presented fairly and with impressive musical insight.… Each insight draws you on to the next telling detail. You feel, in fact, that if all the writing about Gould could be branches on a tree, this book might well be its trunk.
“Bazzana’s ordering is intelligent. Gould’s celebrated eccentricities, neuroses, illnesses real and imagined and destructive self-medicating are dealt with well on into the book, and only after we’ve been given enough material about Gould’s art and thoughts to understand his odd behaviours as ‘occupational hazards of a highly subjective business.’”
–James Manishen, Winnipeg Free Press
“Provides all the detail of a life that still fascinates almost 25 years after it was cut short.… Bazzana’s credentials are musical and, based on this book, one could say literary, for his writing is clear and enjoyable without sacrificing the mountain of archival and anecdotal information that has been collected.… His discussions of Gould’s esthetic are informed by an in-depth knowledge of what music is made of and how the musical world before Gould had treated the works of the composers Gould gravitated towards and used for his own often peculiar artistic purposes.”
–Bill Rankin, Edmonton Journal
“With Wondrous Strange, Kevin Bazzana, a leading authority on the art of Glenn Gould, has now undertaken to give us the biography we have been waiting for – the life and times of a most unusual man, told with passion, intelligence, wit, and fair-mindedness.”
–Tim Page, music critic, editor of The Glenn Gould Reader
“Well researched, well-written, intelligent and fair, Kevin Bazzana’s Wondrous Strange will be seen as the definitive mainstream biography of Glenn Gould.”
–Nicholas Spice, publisher, London Review of Books
“[An] authoritative, beautifully composed biography.… In every way, Bazzana underscores the full complexity of Gould as both man and artist.… Wondrous Strange is obviously a must for any fan of this great pianist, but it is much more than that: Kevin Bazzana deserves all praise for producing a study worthy of its subject – expertly paced, admiring yet sensible, touched with wit and intensely readable.”
–Michael Dirda, Washington Post
From the Hardcover edition.
Kevin Bazzana has a Ph.D. in Music History and Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been the editor of GlennGould magazine since 1995 and has served as the editor of The Beethoven Journal. Bazzana is the author of the scholarly publication Glenn Gould: The Performer in the Work (Oxford University Press, 1997), which has received international praise and has been published in English, Japanese, and German. He lives in Brentwood Bay, B.C.
From the Hardcover edition.
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