Saturday, November 08, 2014

Glenn Gould - Off the Record/On the Record

I discovered yesterday that the National Film Board has made its 1959 documentary about Glenn Gould available on YouTube.  The first part is entitled Glenn Gould - Off the Record/On the Record and it's fantastic! Here's Part I:

I am amazed that in all the years I've been writing on this blog this is only the second time I've ever mentioned Gould.

I used to borrow (and renew) a VHS copy of this documentary back when I was in high school - I couldn't get enough of it.  Watching it again, the sheer energy that comes from his Bach playing is something that never fails to amaze me.

It also reminds me of just how my own musical tastes, even today, are very much a reflection of Gould's. I was pretty impressionable, but I already loved Bach, so it would be natural that I would discover Gould.  Given how much I enjoyed his playing, his opinions came with a certain authority that I couldn't really object to. 

Although I've moved on considerably, I cannot help but think that one of the main reasons Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier is my favourite opera has a lot to do with Gould's advocacy of Strauss as a composer. 

These documentaries are also a wonderful window into late 1950's North America.   It is difficult not to watch these and think "wow, Mad Men really nailed that era", but also the fact that classical music, at this time, still had a fair bit of cultural credibility, which is something I've long written about, and which I may find myself writing about again!

Here's Part II:


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