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Glenn Gould, the Broadcaster

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Glenn Gould

As many of you know, 2012 is a double-anniversary for Glenn Gould: his 80th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his passing. I have been working on some posts here and on my Friday Blog, and plan a few more before the year is done.

Today, I am not going to discuss Gould’s phenomenal piano career, but rather turn to something he took on with probably equal apllomb: his many realizations as a radio (and television) producer and broadcaster.

The above picture is that of a street bench along Front Street in Toronto, just in fromt of the CBC Broadcast centre. The statue shows him in his usual attire of hat, gloves, and coat no matter what the weather. The bronze statue by Ruth Abernethy was unveiled in 1999.

The centre also has a small auditorium, the Glenn Gould studio, used for broadcasting music, most often solo or chamner settings. The fact that Mr. Gould's effigy is forever parked in front of the CBC's main broadcast facility only comes to symbolize the unique relationship artist and broadcaster have shared.

Gould’s association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is well known and copiously documented through commercial recordings as well as archived radio and television materials (many of which are being released this year as part of the double-anniversary). After his radio debut Christmas Eve 1950, Mr. Gould was a Distinguished Artist, performing regularly on that aptly-titled CBC Radio anthology series in the early to late 1950’s, was featured on the English CBC’s first television broadcast, as well as regularly featured on CBC and Radio Canada television programs, suc as l’heure du concert. Through almost a decade of international touring and public performances (1955-1964), Gould regularly played studio recitals, appeared with the CBC’s radio orchestras, and gave on-air interviews and talks on musical subjects.

When Gould put an end to his public performances in 1964, he became increasingly fascinated with the inner-workings of the media, as well as the inner-workings of studio recordings. This meant that Gould not only had a growing voice in the booth and post-production for his many piano recordings, but that he also would use radio (and television to a lesser extent) as a creative medium for himself.

The Solitude Trilogy
The Solitude Trilogy is a collection of three hour-long radio documentaries produced by Gould for the CBC and a film collaboration between the CBC and PBS. Gould produced the documentaries as individual works between 1967 and 1977, then collected them under the title Solitude Trilogy, reflecting the theme of "withdrawal from the world" that unites the pieces. "[They are] as close to an autobiographical statement as [I intend] to get in radio".

Who better than Gould, who himself had a notoriously reclusive lifestyle, to explore solitude, and withdrawal from a world he himself didn’t understand or didn’t appear to understand him… The first and most famous of the documentaries is The Idea of North, produced for radio in 1967 and later re-imagined for film. The documentary explores five contrasting views of Northern Canada:

The other two documentaries, less famous but just as incisive, were The Latecomers (1969), about life in Newfoundland outports, 1977's The Quiet in the Land about Manitoba’s Mennonites.

The Great Musicians
Gould certainly was at home discussing music and the great musicians. He made severarl documentaries on famous personalitioes such as Petula Clark, Pablo Casals and conductor Leoplod Stokowski (with whom he had the pleasure of working). The Stokowski documentary stands out especially for me:

Glenn Gould’s Toronto
One of Gould’s last documentaries was produced for an international television co-production entitled “Cities”. Canada’s contribution was a one-hour television programme on the city of Toronto, and features Gould as a combination raconteur, tour guide and general eccentric. The series pre-dates Mr. Gould’s passing by a couple of years, but shows him in great spirits, full of wit and (at times) quite self-depricating:

Of course, as I pointed out in my Gumdrops blog late last year, the CBC has a websote dedicated to Gould’s broadcasting legacy. It is well worth browsing:

Also, the YouTube channel Chaîne de nonnaderachel carries many of Gould`s radio documentaries and performances.

April 13, 2012, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will be adding a new montage "Brahms, Szell & Serkin" to its Pod-O-Matic Podcast. Read our English and French commentary April 13 on the ITYWLTMT Blogspot blog.
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Updated Apr-10-2012 at 10:34 by itywltmt

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