132—Technology and the artist: Glenn Gould in the studio

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By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio – articles – email ) | May 13, 2022 | In the Catholic Culture Podcast

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“The justification of art is the internal combustion it kindles in the hearts of men and not its superficial and exteriorized public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline, but rather the gradual and permanent building of a state of wonder and serenity. – Glenn Gould

One of the greatest classical pianists of the 20th century, Glenn Gould, shocked the world at the age of thirty-one when he announced his final retirement from public performance. Denouncing the concert hall as a relative of the Roman Colosseum and the public as a “force of evil”, for his artistic integrity and personal sanity, he devoted the rest of his musical life to studio recording.

Gould’s brilliant and sometimes provocative interpretations of classical masterpieces are well known, especially his unequaled Bach recordings. But he was also a prolific, articulate and no less provocative critic. In essays like “The Prospects of Recording”, he exposes his philosophy of performance, of the relationship between technology and music.

He described his own experimentation with unconventional recording techniques and made bold and often accurate predictions of how recording technology would change the way the average person would relate to music. And he bluntly rejected many of the stagnant conventions of contemporary classical performance.

In this episode, Thomas discusses Gould’s fascinating (and often entertaining) views on music and technology, and plays a number of his recordings. If you’ve never heard Gould play, you’re missing out. If so, you’ll find this episode all the more interesting.

Pieces played in this episode (all performed by Glenn Gould):

JS Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I: Prelude and Fugue no. 3 in C sharp major, Fugue no. 20 in A major, Prelude no. 21 in B flat major

Bach, Inventions in two and three parts: Invention no. 12 in A major, Sinfonia no. 5 in E flat major, Sinfonia no. 9 in F minor

Brahms, Intermezzo No. 2 in A major, Op. 118

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5, IV. Allegro, transcription for piano by Franz Liszt

2011 essay by Thomas Mirus “Glenn Gould in the studio” https://thomasmirus.com/2013/05/20/glenn-gould-in-the-studio

Musical theme: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist living in New York. He is Director of Podcasts for CatholicCulture.org, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full biography.

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