Profile: Damjana Bratuz is Music Professor
Emeritus at the University of Western Ontario, in London,
Ontario. Her series of music programmes for children
at Radio Trieste, in Italy, brought her a Fulbright
award in 1958, which allowed her to study in the United
States. In 1967, she received a doctorate in piano
literature and performance at Indiana University, with
a minor in radio and television. A renowned pedagogue,
lecturer, and pianist, her concern for the careers
of young Canadian musicians in the wider spectrum of
community life has taken her as a speaker to major
national and international conferences. In 1989, she
returned to Italy, with an award from the Italian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, for research in musical semiotics
at the University of Bologna. Subsequently, she established
graduate courses in 'interdisciplinary research with
music' at the U.W.O. Centre for the Study of Theory
and Criticism. In her research, Dr. Bratuz explores
the areas of convergence between music and the arts.
Since 1994, she has taught, lectured, and performed
in France, Italy, Finland, and New Zealand, and was
recently a guest lecturer at the Dipartimento di Nuove
Pratiche Musicali of the Parma Conservatory. In the
fall of 1998, she presented papers at conferences on
musical semiotics in Toronto ("Invisible
Connections, Audible Signs: The Harvard Lectures of
Bartok (1943) and Calvino (1985)," and Aix-en-Provence
("On the Embodiment of Form: Polychronic Movement
in Flaubert and Debussy").
Glenn Gould in Italy (1958)
Canadian connection (Bologna 1989-90)
"Glenn Gould in Insalata Capricciosa" (Rattalino,
2. "The Punishing of a Myth" (1990)
grain of the touch (1992)
landscape of amnesia
1. UWO (University of Western
2. UCF (Universit canadienne
en France) (1994-95)
Glenn Gould in
In November of 1958, Gould performed in Florence and
in Rome, in what would be his only visit to Italy. [In
the Fall 1999 issue of the Glenn Gould Magazine,
Vol.5/2, an Italian "Friend of Glenn Gould" has provided
new information revealing that Gould had given a recital
at that time in Turin as well.] Two months earlier,
I had left Italy for the United States as an exchange
student. It was in St. Louis, Missouri, that I first
had the opportunity to hear Gould's recordings (Bach
and Beethoven), and that I was able to hear Gould in
concert, in January of 1959, in Beethoven's "Emperor"
Concerto. It was "a Prinz concerto, not an emperor's,"
said Leo Sirota, the distinguished Russian-Viennese
pianist and the professor with whom I was preparing
my American master's degree. My response to Gould was
akin to the one I had on first hearing the young Arturo
Benedetti Michelangeli, in Trieste, right after the
war: it was a new reading of the "Emperor"; it
seemed like a construction lifted out of a familiar
score, a new organism with its own integrity. I heard
Gould again, in November of the same year, in recital
at Indiana University. Afterwards, I recalled especially
the spell of his encore, the first sounds I ever heard
of a heritage unknown to me: the English virginalists.
Three reviews of his recital at the Teatro della Pergola
in Florence, and nine(!) of the Second Concerto by Beethoven
he performed at the Auditorium of the Accademia di Santa
Cecilia in Rome, came recently into my hands at the
suggestion of Piero Rattalino, through the kindness
of Maestro Leonardo Pinzauti of Florence, and of Signora
Paola Fontecedro of the Santa Cecilia Press Office in
Rome. Previously, only the Florence review signed "V.D"
had been available among the Gould papers at the National
Library of Canada, and it was Leonardo Pinzauti who
revealed the initials to be those of Virgilio Doplicher,
a distinguished musician who had played under Mahler,
and was active in Florence as a promoter of new music.
It is difficult to render into English some of the resonances
contained in the original Italian terms of his review,
but one can acknowledge the remarkable insight in the
reviewer's perception of the "ec/static" dimension of
those moments when the music takes a life of its
own and seems to be slipping out of the pianist's hands...
Glenn Gould agli Amici della Musica
"To describe adequately the personality
of pianist Glenn Gould one ought to use an instrumental
language, such as the one he uses to establish a rapport
with his audience. Indeed, the exceptional excellence
of his musical nature refuses to be contained within
the reviewer's usual routine. Exceptional in the truest
sense of the word are the artistic gifts of this pianist,
gifts which mark every fiber of his being. Exceptional
are the musicianship, the technique, the variety and
quality of the touch, of the movement, the characterization
of the style and of the intimate significance of the
works he interprets. It is difficult to imagine a
music that is clearer, more limpid, more consistent
with the inner process of its formation: clarity,
limpidity and an expressive power one would suspect
to be almost non-human, were it not for those moments
in which the music, out of its own impulse and especially
noticeably in the finales (as if to mitigate
its congenial splendour), escapes from the performer's
hands (though not from his watchful control) and shows
us the pain that such exceptional power costs the
pianist himself. These characteristics of interpretation
marked the polyphonic religiosity of Sweeling's Fantasia,
the luminous purity of Mozart's Sonata in C major,
the monumental Goldberg Variations by J.S.Bach,
and the Suite, op.25, of Schoenberg's - fantastic,
virtuosic, instrumental play - works that composed
a programme which, we are pleased to acknowledge,
was exceptional in itself.
To the enthusiastic ovations and
insistent requests, Glenn Gould kindly responded by
offering a few more pieces. V.D.
One notices in the above review [as well as in the
other reviews reprinted in the published version of
this article], in spite of the highflown, 1950s style
of writing, the "mode" that so distinguishes Italian
from North American press coverage: the primacy given
to the musical fact - by reviewers who are usually well-known
musicians and scholars (with the exception of those
signed "Vice" signifying a substitute reporter);
the attention given to the choice of program and its
significance (Luciano Alberti, Adelmo Damerini, Virgilio
Doplicher); the hesitation to verbalize a judgment in
the precariousness of a first impression (Luciano
Alberti), when the context of the performer's evolution
is not well known; the acknowledgment of Gould's unbalanced
exteriority only to stress the miracle of what is
produced, musically and pianistically, and is put
in the service of the work evoked (Damerini); the
absence of all that protagonismo and that opinionismo
on the music reviewer's part which are instead so familiar
to North-American readers. The exception is represented
by the utterly deaf, prejudiced, reaction penned for
Rome's Il Tempo by Guido Pannain, whom I remember
as one of the most prominent musicologists and authors
of the Fascist era...
Gould's Bach encores, writes the reporter of Rome's
Giornale d'Italia, strangely brought to mind Dinu
Lipatti. A quarter of a century after these reviews,
continuing the Italian practice of recognizing and stressing
the historical context, Piero Rattalino in his article
"Piano Story" devoted to Gould also mentions Lipatti,
as having preceded Gould in advocating the takeover,
by the piano, of the English Virginalists. It is
astounding, for Rattalino, that hardly anyone has followed
Gould in performing Gibbons on the piano. It was a cultural
project on the part of Gould to play harpsichord/virginal
literature on an anachronistic instrument, at a time
when contemporary culture was proceeding toward the
philological recovery also of sonority. Historical
and cultural awareness bring Rattalino to put Gould's
thinking of music as an eminently mental fact, as
a mathematical computation in which the sensory aspect
of the sign - of the sound - is indispensable but not
essential for the comprehension of the concept,
into the context of Busoni's thinking. Gould carried
onto the piano keyboard everything that had been thought
by means of that computing machine which is the keyboard.
It was an idea by Busoni that had never been adopted
by Euroamerican culture. Gould used it as the carrying
element of his cultural project. (Piano Time II/15,
June 1984, 17)
One can only wonder what the great Italian critics
of the era would have written had Gould also appeared
in Milan, where the poet Eugenio Montale (Nobel Prize
1975) humbly reviewed concerts for the Corriere della
Sera; or in Turin, where the great and beloved musicologist,
Massimo Mila, wrote in La Stampa. The critical
sensibility of the Italian public can still be honed
by regular exposure to some of the finest minds of the
day - versatile personalities, some actively engaged
in cultural and political life, who are music critics
by avocation and, most important, whose principal work
is itself under public scrutiny. In the articles written
by such critics, newspaper readers can follow a manner
of thinking, an active striving for insight; they are
not being administered a quick, re-active opinion in
that oppressive manner that seems to be the only mode
of Canadian press reviewing and media commentary. "We're
a nation of evaluators," Gould once said,(1) and I recall
his declaring, in one of his earliest filmed interviews,
that critics were "totally unimportant."
What if the Canadian newspaper reader, the musical
layperson, and the young student had access to the insights
of a Northrop Frye, who started each day by playing
Bach's Preludes and Fugues, who in his Divisions
on a Ground - what Gouldian overtones in this title!
- recalled "the essential role of criticism in the maturing
of a culture," and who wrote so persuasively about non-evaluative
criticism? (2) Or to the thinking of a Robertson Davies
or a George Woodcock? Said Luciano Berio, "The pillars
of Italian musical criticism - undoubtedly the best
that I've ever come across - are people deeply rooted
in music-making and its history." By contrast, he considers
American music reviewing among the worst in the world
and wonders whether Italy should perhaps export a few
music critics along with its spaghetti and various luxury
items: "Imagine what an impression it would leave, and
what beneficient confusion it would create if you let
Fedele D'Amico write for the New York Times even for
a single month..." (3). Umberto Eco explains this habit,
one "common to all European intellectuals," of writing
"for daily papers and weekly magazines" as being born
of a sense of duty, within a different "pattern of culture"
and in a climate where there exists no such division
of labour as n America (4).
Certainly in such a climate the variety of Gould's
talents could find a congenial acceptance. It is my
conviction that exposure to today's finest music criticism
- by musicologist Giorgio Pestelli; by Germanist and
biographer Quirino Principe; by Roman Vlad, now artistic
director of La Scala; and by Piero Rattalino - and exposure
to these critics' multiform activity in the community,
to their imaginative radio and TV programmes, is responsible
for the more extensive investigation of Gould's ideas
by young Italian academics. It is also responsible for
the greater openness of the general public to Gould's
essential contribution. Not only do a greater number
appear to be familiar with his writings, but they tend
to disregard his media personality and focus on his
achievements as a thinker in music.
Piero Rattalino, whose inquiries into Gould's art are
described below [2: II, III], contributes regular articles
to the major music magazines that are available in Italy:
Piano Time, Musica, Symphonia, Amadeus, etc.
In 1983, Massimo Mila greeted the appearance of Rattalino's
book on great pianists (5)
as an example of that recent "dispairing discipline,
whose purpose it is to stop the most ephemeral aspect
of music, its performance" (6). The reflections Rattalino
shares arise from a sort of continuum of boundless information
about the evolution of musical interpretation and the
evolution of the individual performers whose art he
studies. When in 1993 one of his former students from
Milan's Conservatory, Simone Pedroni, won the Van Cliburn
prize, Rattalino travelled to two different centres
to hear him, putting the pianist's achievement in the
perspective of his previous work, and he wrote a remarkable
account in Piano Time (7). He is able, on occasion,
"to put aside his professional listener's baggage" but,
in the realm of ever-changing interpretations, he also
puts himself continually under scrutiny as a 'judging
The perception of Glenn Gould in Italy is enhanced
by the frequent presence of individual Canadian visitors
who exemplify the country's cultural capital and provide
the context for Gould's image and its significance.
R.Murray Schafer, Northrop Frye, and Jean Jacques Nattiez
had been in Bologna at various times before my arrival
there in November 1989. The events surrounding their
visits, which had included a tribute to McLuhan, were
not only reported by the media, but had produced various
after-effects. In academic courses their works had already
been required reading, and they were frequently cited
in the bibliographies of university theses. But each
one of these Canadian cultural figures was also spoken
about outside academia as a punto di riferimento,
a "reference point," a term that was also used in regard
to Gould by people from all walks of life.
By PRESENCE, in my title,
I refer not only to "Canada? Ah, Glenn Gould...!"-
the frequent reaction of Italians when I was introduced
to them as a pianist resident in Canada - but to the
many ways in which Gould's ideas and example have reached
the wider spectrum of Italian cultural life. I refer
to Gould's attualit, to the "present-ness" of
his concerns; to the attention he received on the Italian
radio and television network in a series of programs
hosted by distinguished musicians; to Piero Rattalino's
numerous articles with his insights into Gould's "creative
presence"; to the conversations from which it was not
the media-induced "image" of Gould, generating extremes
of infatuation or rejection, that transpired, but a
far greater awareness of his thought, of his
ideas and their implications than I had ever encountered
in my academic life in Canada. The various examples
of this awareness had special meaning to me as a teacher.
It was naturally assumed that Gould's impact was even
stronger in Canada's cultural landscape than it was
in Italy. After all, as George Steiner has said, Gould's
"monumental" contribution with the series of broadcasts
on music that he made for Canadian radio and television
added up to "a major feat of national education, of
encouragement, by a teacher-patriot of rare devotion."
(9) One would assume, therefore, that Canada would have
a national audience receptive to such privilege. One
would never imagine that the CBC, with its world-renowned
programs, was not directly accessible across the entire
country. In reality, even a centre such as London, Ontario,
not too far from Toronto and with a population of more
than a quarter of a million, depended until 1978 on
the benevolence of a local, affiliated station to receive
some CBC radio programmes - and until the mid-1980s
for its television!
The kind of nationwide, coordinated network envisaged
abroad, one that could create a truly communal sharing
and address a collective musical sensibility, did not
exist. The consequences, which became palpable in my
university teaching experience, exacerbated the effects
of what Steiner has called "the planned amnesia" of
high school instruction in North America (10). Among
these consequences: in twenty-five years of teaching
in a music department of about five hundred promising,
talented, young musicians, I had only one incoming
piano student who was thoroughly acquainted with Gould's
world and who would alert me as a newcomer to the Gould
essays that had appeared in scattered journals; I met
only a handful of young pianists who had at least superficially
followed his radio and television programmes. The majority
had only been fed the cliches about him and often were
reluctant, in my classes, to undertake the Gould reading
And never was Gould's work considered "a point of reference"
or given the dignity of serious academic consideration.
To speak of an ITALIAN
PERSPECTIVE inevitably implies a translation of
Gould's writings and performances into a foreign cultural
climate, one in which they may resonate with other echoes,
evoke a new network of associations, and acquire different
connotations. It is translation that shapes and affects
the critical sensitivity of the fruitore - a
current Italian term that does not have an English equivalent
and is variously rendered as user, patron, consumer,
- and therefore also the Italian fruitore of
Gould's recordings and essays.
The social and aesthetic significance of Gould's role,
his "attempt to connect pianism with the larger society,"
(12) places him among those intellectuals whose work
is considered divulgativo - another difficult
term, the usual translation as "popularizing" hardly
conveying the implied action of disseminating. We have
seen that Eco speaks of the intellectual's duty toward
the general fruitore. and the specialist accomplishes
this duty always by relating the listener, the reader,
the fruitore, to the subject. This was also Gould's
way as a divulgatore: the path advocated by Frye,
as against "the slithering downward way" of relating
the subject to the audience (the one unfortunately adopted
since the 1970s by all the hosts and "guest-hosts" of
CBC's music programmes). (13);
Gould's versatility finds a most congenial climate
in Italy. Unlike North America, where specialization
predominates, the Italian milieu has an inherent plurality
that manifests itself in many different ways: in the
social and professional roles that can be exchanged
when, say, a well-established musician becomes mayor
of Florence or, conversely, when a trained psychiatrist
becomes a conductor; (14) in the "pluri-vocal" context
often adopted in magazine articles, such as the one
in Panorama discussed below, a montage of four
contributing "voices," each one dealing with a different
aspect of Gould; or, exemplifying Rattalino's interest
in musical evolution, in the "Sixteen views of Bach's
Chaconne." The latter comprises an historical
and analytical study of the work by the participants
in one of Rattalino's university courses; a survey of
the re-elaborations, transcriptions, revisions, and
performances of the work, i.e., "an excursus
of interpretation in a global sense, from which transpires
the evolution of musical taste through the years." It
also includes analyses of recorded performances by violinists,
guitarists, and pianists (including Busoni's and Benedetti
Michelangeli's), as well as a fac-simile of the manuscript,
and a CD. (15)
Yet another example of this non-specialized attitude
is the predilection for historical juxtapositions, like
those in the concert I attended at the Bologna Conservatory,
which offered alternately Baroque and electronic music.
Under the gaze of Farinelli's portrait on the wall,
the last piece for viola da gamba, voice, and harpsichord
was unexpectedly followed by its electronically manipulated
version: a creative intervention that brought delight
both to the audience and to the "authentic" performers
still on stage.
Gould, who was the first to relate Byrd to Berg, Schoenberg
to Sweelinck in his concert programmes, nevertheless
considered electronic superimpositions rather a "disadvantage"
in that they create "a climate of public acceptance"
of speakers as executors; and in these "St. Mark's"-
like exhibitions, the audience remained for him "remote
from a genuine electronic participation." For Gould,
"the future of the art of music" awaited for the "fuller
participation" of the new kind of listener, one who
was no longer passive but was the "dedicated connoisseur"
who created his own ideal performance. (16)
When in his 1964 "Perspective" Gould juxtaposed the
two moments of historical transition represented by
Monteverdi and Schoenberg, he described the process
toward tonality in the late Renaissance as one toward
a "public, common language."(GGR,109) In our
own transitional period we do not know whether electronic
music will eventually become such a "language," but
in Italy one can observe an easy coexistence of traditional
with all kinds of contemporary music.
Gould believed that music could assume "a role as immediate,
as utilitarian, as colloquial" as that of language in
our daily lives. (GGR,352) Thus, he joins other
twentieth-century thinkers - Mondrian comes to mind
(17) - when
he ventures that "art would be unnecessary...the professional
specialization involved in its making would be presumption....The
audience would be the artist and their life would be
In order to convey the kind of perspective within which
the interest in Gould arose in Italy, I give below a
few examples that I gathered during my six-months visit
to Bologna. They include, first, the Canadian connection
at the University of Bologna; a thesis that takes Gould's
technological vision as its point of departure (1989);
next, an analysis of Gould's CD releases available in
Italy in 1989, addressed both to the connoisseur and
the lay collector; a magazine's presentation of the
touring Gould exhibit in Rome (1987); and finally, a
note in a daily newspaper regarding the series of Gould's
video programs on Italian television.
I THE CANADIAN CONNECTION
- BOLOGNA, 1989-1990
It was a peculiar sight: I was in Italy after thirty
years and was scanning the lists of required textbooks
at Bologna's famous DAMS (18)
- that unique interdisciplinary experiment of university
courses in the "discipline delle arti, musica, e
spettacolo" - and most of the titles on the bulletin
board were by Canadian authors! One would expect to
find Innis, McLuhan, and Gould among the authors assigned
at the Istituto di Discipline della Comunicazione (some
of whose young researchers had spent a year in Toronto,
after the director, Umberto Eco, donated his McLuhan
Prize for this purpose). But at the Music Department,
the books and articles by David Lidov, Jean-Jacques
Nattiez, R.Murray Schafer, and John Shepherd were an
unexpected surprise for a Canadian visitor. (19)
In several Bologna bookstores I had noticed a wonderful
title, La musica come sapere sociale, but it
had not occurred to me that the John Shepherd who wrote
it was the Ottawa professor I knew. Then I observed
that at different times in various classes, one of the
students always carried this book with him, and I asked
to see it. "It is the greatest book in the whole world,"
he announced with operatic intensity. The author was
indeed our professor from Carleton University, and this
particular collection had first appeared in Italian
in1988 .(20) Another book on the list, Nattiez's Il
discorso musicale (1987), has not even been published
in English (21).
The blurbs on the covers of both books reflected their
aim to reach the general (not only the erudite) Italian
reader, especially Shepherd's essays, which embraced
the musical universe of the layman.
I kept discovering more evidence of a Canadian connection:
The day before my arrival, Nattiez had
delivered the first of a series of public lectures on
the arts that were given by eminent scholars. Sponsored
by Bologna's City Council and held in an old palazzo
near Piazza Maggiore, they were announced on posters
all over town. Later during my stay, the Italian edition
of Nattiez's Musicologia generale e semiologia
was presented to the audience in the intermission of
a chamber music concert. The author was obviously "a
point of reference" in that milieu.
Six months earlier, in April 1989, Northrop
Frye had received an honorary doctorate during the celebrations
of the ninth centenary of the University. In the "glorious
hall, all ablaze with colourful togas and mortar-boards...,
the university choir singing their ancient hymn...,
the ceremony reached moments of intense emotion, when
the elderly master from the University of Toronto was
proclaimed dottore of the Alma Mater Studiorum..."
(22) Frye and Umberto Eco read papers a few days later
to inaugurate the celebrations of "Bologna - Nationes,"
whose theme was the relation between technology and
the humanities. Five days were devoted to "the cultural
ties between the Ateneo [University] and Canadian
culture." (23) These celebrations included a tribute
to McLuhan, which was described as "another touching
moment when, after an actor's reading of pages by Marshall
McLuhan, his daughter Stephanie was presented with a
gift of coins minted on the occasion of the IX Centenary
of the University."
Two of the Canadian days were devoted to Marconi, "who
a hundred years ago with his invention started the technological
revolution which changed the modern world." A gigantic
radio link via satellite made possible a videoconference
between the universities of Bologna and Ottawa on the
theme of intercontinental telecommunications. One wonders
whether Glenn Gould, when he was in Newfoundland collecting
voices and "auditory seascapes" for his radio documentary
(The Latecomers), (24) ever heard through the
earphones, on Signal Hill, the three dots (the Morse
code for S) - the replica of the 1901 first radio signal
by Marconi across the Atlantic.
The year before my visit, R.Murray Schafer
had spoken at Bologna's DAMS on "Environment and Soundscape,"
at an international seminar conceived and organized
by a young graduate, Vincenzo Perna, and titled "Musica
& Mass media: Prospettive per l'Universit." (25) Several
people, from all walks of life, had enthused about Il
paesaggio sonoro, the Italian version of Schafer's
celebrated soundscape book, The Tuning of the World.
I had to confess to them that it had been mostly ignored
by my Canadian students - and also by my colleagues.
"But it's a point of reference!" they protested...
During my stay I had the opportunity to examine Vincenzo
Perna's 1989 doctoral thesis, Nuove Tecnologie, Comunicazione
e Musica: la Ri-Produzione Sonora. It opens with
a lengthy quotation taken from "The Prospects of Recording,"
in which Gould states his views on the transformations
that the electronic age will bring to the art of music
and to human lives. (GGR,353) Gould's impact
and achievement are presented within a vast arch of
interdisciplinary efforts. For Perna, Gould's contribution
was "paradigmatic of the overturning of perspective
brought about by the introduction of new techniques
of sound reproduction." He points out that Gould "grasped
most sharply their aesthetic and sociological implications,"
though "with the kind of technological Utopianism similar
to that of his compatriot McLuhan, and of John Cage"
(124-127). Perna's thesis goes beyond the usual investigations
by "musicologists for whom sound reproduction is simply
a channel for music," and beyond the technical, quantitative
analyses by communications experts for whom "music belongs
to a realm outside that of mass communication" (VI-VII).
Perna links the new listening models to "the opera
aperta envisaged by the avantgarde" and sees reproduction
as having brought "il paesaggio sonoro inside
the music"(226). In developing his arguments, Perna
draws from numerous Canadian sources, including Norman
McLaren (whose animated short film Spheres, from
1969, has Gould's Bach as its soundtrack), the composer
and soundscape researcher Barry Truax (whose writings
have appeared in Italian), Paul Zumthor (La presenza
della voce), and Edmund Carpenter (whose statement
on "auditory space" from Eskimo Realities ,
concludes the thesis). But Perna's is not the usual
academic compilation. His skillfully woven arguments,
and the range of associations reveal a deeply meditated
labour; references and quotations emerge to sustain
the enormous amount of information. As for his bibliography,
it appearss to have been indeed "conquered step by step
and with pain (sofferta)," as Umberto Eco advises
in his paper on "University and Mass Media." (26) In
the conclusion of this same paper, Eco seems to take
up Gould's citation of McLuhan's observation that cultural
awareness is always one generation behind the experience.(GGR,345)
Eco calls attention to the current "discovery" by the
mass media "that we are entering the image civilization"
forty years after sociologists had said so and just
when "the new civilization of the computer is an alphabetical
one and we are returning to Gutenberg's Galaxy." The
invaluable role of the university, says Eco, is that
it provides students with ideas twenty years before
the mass media arrive at a "strenuously conquered clich."
Gould's prophecy of "individualized control and choice
of technology has come true": so wrote Stephen Godfrey
in his 1990 article, "Plugging into Gould's legacy,"
devoted to the Glenn Gould Profile, an interactive
"hypermedia" system that was "using text, photos, sound
and video" to explore Gould's life and ideas, and was
"preparing the pianist's legacy for the twenty-first
century." (28) Gould had predicted the coming of "videocassette
cartridges," and one can only wonder how the current
interactive possibilities of advanced videodiscs, CD-ROM,
and the Internet will contribute to his vision of technology
doing "extraordinary things for the musicality of man."
The extent of Gould's clairvoyance is exemplified in
a recent Italian article entitled "Non piu opera
unica, ma epica o luogo collettivo" ("No longer
a unique work, but an epic one or a collective place"),
by Angela Vettese.(29) Gould's idea "that the end result
of all our labours in the recording studio is not going
to be an autocratic finished product... but a rather
more democratic assemblage," (30) reverberates throughout
Vettese's article. In it, she describes contemporary
Italian and American artworks in which "anonymous collective
participation supplants the traditional subjectivism
of the artist The very concept of an individual creator
is today the focus of widespread suspicion, expressed
in Foucault's definition of the 'Author' as one who,
like other coercive institutions, imposes himself on
peoples' conscience, and closes them instead of opening
them wide." In 1966, Gould had written about the "overlapping
of professional and lay responsability" that lay ahead.
"Many more hands will be required to achieve the execution
of a particular environmental experience," he said,
and "because so many different levels of participation
will, in fact, be merged in the final result, the individualized
information concepts which define the nature of identity
and authorship will become very much less imposing."
Among various examples of European Internet experiments,
Vettese describes some of those created in Italy, in
which artistic projects are left continually open to
outside contributions, to be modified and developed
by others, so that "they result in a collective work
by many hands."
From a larger perspective, i.e., from a point of view
of historical awareness, one could also look at the
continuum of traditional music-making as one in which,
through the years, artist performers have continually
modified and imaginatively reconstructed the "canon,"
the inherited repertoire. They have also built on, and
with, their "remembrances of things played" (31) - the
performances and the insights of other musicians. As
for contemporary composers, "we are all working on the
same piece," as Lucas Foss once said. (32) Rather than
supplanting the art of musical performance as we know
it, the interactive explorations that are made possible
by the new technological instruments may, in the right
hands, present an extension of what Rattalino called
Gould's "invention on the text." The question now is:
Who will be the "dedicated connoisseur" that
Gould envisaged for the task?
In his article on the multimedia Glenn Gould Profile,
Godfrey said that "its creators hope it will lead to
a revolution in learning about the arts, at school and
at home," adding that the "real dream" of the company's
president was to see such programs becoming accessible
"in five years." (33)
University is the proper place in which to nourish today's
connoisseurs and prepare them for the changing environment.
One would expect to find within the "applied music"
and "music education" departments of Canadian universities
if not the adoption and exploitation, at least an awareness
of all the new interactive possibilities that are becoming
available.(34) That they have not been explored (at
least not during my Canadian pedagogical experience
up to 1995), and that the academic environment remains
bent on consolidating the passivity of the consumers,
is the subject of the last section (IV) of this paper.
II : 1. Glenn Gould in insalata
capricciosa (Piero Rattalino)
The image of Canada as a country of immense resources
blessedly handled with skill, efficiency, and know-how
makes it very perplexing, in Italy, to understand what
is perceived to be a lack of proper care for Gould's
recorded legacy. "Is it possible," asks Rattalino, "that
in Canada where funds are available, and where Gould
is justly a national glory," no one sees the need to
publish his work in "systematic chronological order?"...
"How is it possible that companies do not arise for
the purpose of publishing the opera omnia of
Rattalino's 1990 article, which can be translated as
"Glenn Gould in a mixed bag," appeared before Sony began
the projects of the Glenn Gould Edition (GGE) and the
Glenn Gould Collection (GGC), and before Sony's release
of Gould's complete recordings and videos were available.
However, Rattalino's arguments against the nine CD versions
he discusses (mostly on Music and Arts, and Nuova Era
labels) could not but remain the same for Sony, since
its releases also have followed a non-chronological
pattern. I would imagine that Rattalino would concur
with R. Everett-Green who called the GGE a "deluxe retrospective"
rather than an opera omnia, in his 1993 review
of the five-disc addition containing mostly CBC broadcasts
made between 1957 and 1970. (36)
The eighth and last release of three discs, in 1997,
contains recordings made between 1959 and 1980.
The works Rattalino mentions as still missing (in 1990),
the Beethoven Hammerklavier and the Chopin Sonata,
are now available in GGE vii, and GGE iii, respectively.
I can only translate and summarize here the main points
of the seven-page article, and I add my comments at
-"Since Revcom Television's release of twenty-three
reels of "The Glenn Gould performance series," an avalanche
of Gould's discs has appeared as a result and, in my
view, it is more a bad than a good thing. The TV registrations
cover a period between 1954 to 1980, but do not contain
all the televised Gould. They exclude works whose existence
is known, such as Beethoven's Hammerklavier and - udite,
udite! [hear ye, hear ye!] - Chopin's Sonata op.58.
Gould as interpreter of Chopin? It would be the atomic
bomb, as anyone knows who is familiar with his ideas
- The recordings are coming out "badly" in the sense
that they appear in a disorderly way, according to grouping
criteria which favour the authors rather than the evolution
of the interpreter, of Gould.
- The savvy listener will look at the dates, relate
them with the CBS recordings, and insert them into the
artistic evolution of Gould, which was a very profound
one. But what will happen to the innocent listener,
the one who buys on sale the disc of a famous pianist?
... What can he do, not knowing about the clashing relationship
of Gould with Beethoven? And moreover, between Gould
and the image of Beethoven within the American culture?
- ...These interpretations are incomprehensible
if one does not depart from the Gould of the 1950s and
arrive at the Gould of 1980 to retrace the whole of
his Beethoven, the whole story of a relationship that
saw the fury, the insults, the fights, and which ended
- Our century has been signed by the possibility
we enjoy of preserving interpretations, and we ought
to study them properly and prepare the technical tools
that would allow us to do so... Today it is the public
institutions that ought to promote this turn in the
history of culture - beginning with the public powers
in Canada, a country where there aren't that many musicians
and there is only one Gould. (I apologize to the readers
for unburdening myself in this way.)
- ... Only a few bits of the spoken comments from
the television programs are carried onto the discs,
thus removing the performance from its special context...
When Menuhin speaks of "gesture rather than notes,"
although not intended physiologically, his "gesture"
must be seen. ... The spoken preliminaries are essential
to understand what Gould wants to do, otherwise one
asks not what he wants to do, but what on earth he is
doing. ... I would recommend the disc of Beethoven's
Variations op.35, but it might disorient anyone who
has not "seen" Gould's veritable recitation of it.
- Without a scientifically prepared edition of
all the recordings, the dangers of incomprehension and
misunderstanding are very high both for the naive listener
and for the one who knows Gould only halfway.
- ... Gould never consents to see the innocence
in Mozart: he sees in him the play, the unrestrained
eros of human adolescence, which is not innocent. But
he also sees in Mozart, astonishingly, the tragic pathos
of Don Giovanni's solitude, especially in the A minor
Sonata K.310 - an interpretation to keep in mind as
one of the most complete Mozartean interpretations ever
- The performance of Brahms's Concerto N.1 with
the Baltimore Symphony (8 October 1962) occurred six
months after the famous one with Bernstein and the New
York Philharmonic (8 April 1962) ...In Baltimore, Bernstein
would have had no reason to contest anything, because
Gould's performance was perfectly normal, even pseudo-classical...Perhaps
Gould had changed his mind, or had decided to carry
out his job as a hired performer without creating scandals
which - let the reader forgive me if I say so: I hope
not to appear gossipy - in Baltimore would have never
had the echo it received in New York ? Mah...
- Let us wait for the omnia, done according to
The current availability of Gould's Hammerklavier
and his Chopin, promises interesting follow-ups to Rattalino's
1990 article. His concern for Gould's evolution as an
interpreter represents a particular challenge. In
Remembrances of Things Played: Presence and Memory
in the Pianist's Art, Edward Said - perhaps the
only critic in North America who is similarly interested
in and articulate about the evolution of pianistic interpretation
- pointed out that "Gould seemed actually to invent
himself and his playing; it was as if he had no antecedents."(37)
What Said calls "encounters with memory" would apply
in Gould's case only to the memory network generated
by and within his own evolving readings.
Rattalino's regret for the lack of chronological ordering
of the discs is echoed by B.W.Powe in regard to The
Glenn Gould Reader. Had the essays been arranged
chronologically rather than thematically, says Powe,
"we would have been exposed to an explicit autobiographical
Rattalino's perspective, then, is one that also embraces
the uninformed and the ill-informed listener. One is
reminded of Frye's idea of genuine education - of relating
the student/listener to the subject - when one
sees Rattalino's concern that listeners be given the
best tools so that they may understand the intentions
of the artist. It is regrettable that now, when the
best technological tools and resources were available
to produce the Gould retrospective, it cannot be disseminated
in a way that would serve the artist better. It is an
outsider's perception, of course, to see it as a Canadian
responsibility to do the correct thing for Gould. (Had
Rattalino been able to come to the 1992 conference and
attend the great banquet, he too would have been greeted,
from Japan, by Sony's president, whose face appeared
on the many TV screens around the hall.)
Already in his 1983 survey of great pianists, Rattalino
approached Gould's Mozart on Gould's terms, which is
especially remarkable since his own research is based
on the very premises Gould rejects, Mozart's "theatrical
However, in this 1990 article there appears a new perception,
that of Don Giovanni's pathos in Gould's performance.
As for the Brahms Concerto..., to my knowledge, none
of the New York reviewers listed by Friedrich (40) had
heard Gould perform it in Baltimore as well, and only
recently have the two recorded versions been compared,
by Jed Distler. According to Distler, Gould's concern
with "the relationship between tempos" in Brahms's D
minor Concerto was "better realized" in Baltimore, with
the adoption of faster tempos.(41)
2. The punishing of a myth
At the beginning of his insalata capricciosa
article, Rattalino intimated that the Italian TV network
was planning to broadcast Revcom Television's series
of twenty-three Gould programs, and he anticipated a
proliferation of private video- taping. The series started
in the spring of 1990, and the programs were supervised
and introduced by him.
I had returned to Canada by then, and my attempts
to receive full information from Italy were fruitless.
In June I read a brief article in Corriere della
Sera, under the TV Diary section, where next to
Gould's picture the heading said, "Is he a myth of the
piano? Then he must be punished." After commenting on
the opening events of the soccer World Cup 90, Oreste
del Buono, the renowned Italian critic and fumetti
[cartoons] expert, vented his outrage about the fact
that the third installment in the "exceptional musical
program, A myth of our century: Glenn Gould. The
genius of the piano," had been moved to 1:15 a.m.!
The works to be featured were by Bach, Sweelinck, Beethoven,
and Krenek. Del Buono chided Rai Tre (a network that
still preserves vestiges of the old Third Program) for
never keeping to the appointed program: "If respecting
schedules was the mania of Mussolini and the Fascist
regime, then Rai Tre is an absolutely antifascist network,
now and ever."(42)
Late-night scheduling of Gould's programs was the rule
throughout the 1970s on the affiliated station in London,
Ontario. This made it impossible to share the programs
with the students, or to impose whatsoever fascistic
III 1. Panorama - 1987
"A great manifestation, as multiform as his activity,"
said the renowned author and critic Elisabetta Rasy,
announcing to the readers of the magazine Panorama
the upcoming Omaggio a Gould exhibit in Rome,
in May 1987, which was organized by the Canadian Cultural
Centre. It is a re-launching of the myth, says the heading,
a rediscovery which, "from a cult for the few, creates
a myth for everyone."(43)
In her admirable, concise profile, Rasy - who appears
to have read everything by and about Gould - observes
that Italy, too, has experiences "the spreading of the
Gould "legend" beyond the narrow circle of connoisseurs."
She compares the images of Gould as a youth, all grace
and beauty, to those of the last years, when he appeared
as "a sort of demonic and pensive clochard."
But she mentions Gould's eccentric behaviour only for
its irrelevancy to a "really anticonformist cultural
and psychological personality." For Gould, the true
new frontier of music was technology - "the realm of
distant action, which in his personal vision of reality
and humanity, represented salvation." Technology would
undo the false authoritarianism of the concert stage,
it would create greater intimacy between interpreter
and listener, and above all "it would orient the listener
toward the interior of music rather than the exterior
virtuoso exhibitionism." Gould loved the radio, "to
which he contributed continually, and for which he realized
the Solitude Trilogy, using the human voice and
noise as elements of a musical text."
Rasy's profile of Gould is interspersed contrapuntally
with shorter interventions by three other critics, Rattalino
among them, creating a sort of multi-perspective on
the Gould "legend." Under the heading "Displaying a
Prophet," the first contributor mentions that "the soul
of the world's gould-ism, Bruno Monsaingeon"
will open the exhibit, and that Rattalino will give
the closing lecture. He asks whether instead of the
conventional cypher "genius of solitude" one should
not perhaps "consider Gould's a more modern longing
to communicate?" The Idea of North is singled
out among the dozens of programs by Gould and by others
that will be offered during this series of homages.
Gould, this writer observes, will be "present" at the
exhibit with a "silent, not quite technological simulacrum"
- his piano chair.
The second intervention is a witty survey of an international
roster of young "piano stars," from Pogorelich to Lortie,
as "The Inheritors of the Myth." However, says Rattalino
in the third intervention, even if a few pianists may
have absorbed some of his style, Gould had no followers.
Any attempt to imitate him becomes grotesque, because
at the basis of Gould's inimitability is "the element
of his invention on the text, which clearly prevails
over the element of fidelity to the text." In
our century, continues Rattalino, "musical interpretation
has rejected the concept of creation and has embraced
the concept of fidelity. And it is the charge of creativity,
even when pushed to provocation, that the public has
grasped and still grasps in Gould, and repays with success."
The heading of Rattalino's entry is "Down with the Infidels."
2. The grain of the touch
Shortly before the 1992 Gould conference I read an
Italian book review, well composed, which sounded strangely
gouldian to me. The book, Flatus vocis, was presented
as a "keen study" of two biblical myths dealing with
the human voice and its power, or inability, to communicate.
(44) In the beginning, voice coincides with being: "it
is pure power to express; the fullness of men is wrapped
in a continuum of sound." Then the voice becomes word,
language: it is no longer flesh, but logos, "no
longer a universal breath that unites humans as a resounding
Eden, but a fragmentation of sounds, alien to one another."
Throughout history, only in religion, poetry, and love
has it still been given to experience the fullness of
the voice - yet "it may be in music that the intact
human sonority can be found again."
In his preface to this book, Paul Zumthor (author of
The Presence of the Voice encountered in Perna's
thesis) observes that today a disturbing element has
upset the mythical aspect of the voice: "Its technical
reproductiveness, ever more pervasive and omnipotent,
has changed our immaginario sonoro," our sound
landscape. It has altered the limits of the corporeal,
and in the tactile and visual absence of the body, it
is now possible to find again the voice-body of the
origin - "even in rock concerts, where one can hear
not the voice of a body, but the body of a voice."
The primeval sonority is now being reclaimed, says
the reviewer, "centuries after writing has sunk the
voice." "Let us embalm our word," exhorted Barthes in
the opening of his The Grain of the Voice, "in
order that we may last a little beyond our voice." (45)
But it is to the voice that we turn today, concludes
the reviewer, "so that it may last longer than the human
person and its fragile written trace."
I took this article with me to the conference, and
only on the train did I notice that it was signed "Elisabetta
Rasy" - the author, five years earlier, of the Gould
Through all the reproduction techniques, it is the
body of "Gould's sound" that is heard, the unique presence
of his touch, "ce grain immdiatement identifiable."
IV The landscape of amnesia
All the Italian experiences and most of the Gouldian
references I have described came my way before the Toronto
conference. Those that followed, in a Canadian context,
likewise occurred before the establishment of the "Friends
of Glenn Gould" Society, and of the Glenn Gould magazine,
both of which represent a turning point at last, in
the study of the pianeta Gould - Gould's "planet,"
as Italians put it. I find it pertinent to describe
and comment upon two of these experiences which, coming
as they did at the end of my academic teaching in Canada,
seemed to illuminate and synthesize the nature of my
efforts. Whether in piano classes, piano literature
courses, conferences, competitions, etc., I had never
ceased to envision the possibility of a landscape
of shared presences, memories, points of reference,
within the Canadian musical community
There were two pedagogical sites where the resonances
of the conference and of the "Italian perspective" on
Gould could be put into action. The first was at my
university, as a single illustrated lecture (1. UWO);
the second was at the Universit canadienne en France
in Villefranche, during an entire semester (2. UCF).
The title of the lecture I gave in 1992 was "Glenn Gould:
the View from Italy - a Theme and Diversions;" the 1995
course was a "Cultural Survey" of the social development
of music, with R.M. Schafer's Le paysage sonore
and Gould's The Idea of North as the principal
The "applied music" departments at Canadian universities
would appear to be the ideal spaces in which to explore
Gould's pedagogical principles and their implications.
That these indeed should represent "a threat to the
musical profession as we know it," as Monsaingeon says,
(47) is exactly the kind of subject that institutions
of "higher learning" ought to ponder and debate - if
one is to believe in the critical function of the university.
There is a great need to examine the sort of "embalming"
process taking place in the transient art of performance
just when infinite possibilities for individual creativity
have opened up, possibilities undreamed of even in Gould's
An evidence of this process took place during my Campus
lecture, when it became apparent that the "Diversions"
in the title represented in fact a total "divergence"
with the perceptions of the audience. The visual illustrations
consisted of slides taken during the Toronto conference
- including those of the schoolchildren's "Parade into
the Future - and of a group photo taken on July 1, 1967,
with Gould and other eminent Canadians. As musical illustrations
I presented a selection of Gould's recorded performances,
with the aim of illustrating what Rattalino wrote about
What did Rattalino mean when he said that Gould's reading
of Mozart's Fantasia K.475 ought to be inscribed in
gold, a lettere d'oro, and that the Sonata K.310
reflected the pathos of Don Giovanni's solitude? What
did he mean by the "interpretive tradition of Beethoven
with which even the naive listener was faintly acquainted"
and against which Rattalino put Gould's reading of the
C Minor Variations as "mortally stagnant and drowned
As for Rattalino's conjectures regarding Gould's secret
passion for Romanticism, one that "if manifested, might
have destroyed him," I used the recording of "Enoch
Arden" by Strauss as an example of Gould's panache with
ultra-Romantic style. (The GGE vii release of the Chopin
Sonata op.58 was not yet available; I quoted Gould's
statement about having made a radio recording of it
 "just to amuse myself or to irritate my friends.")
(48).) In 1983, when the existence of any Gould recording
of Chopin was unknown, Rattalino had imagined a "voluptuous"
Chopin on Gould's part. I made light of Rattalino's
reference to Anatole France's Thais, and of his
natural assumption that, for his Italian non-specialist
readers, he needed no footnotes in regard to France's
puritanical Atanaele-Gould and the carnal beauty
of Thais-Chopin. (49)
At that moment, I noticed in the audience a colleague
from the French department shaking her head with a disconsolate
look. There had been no smiles from the students, and,
throughout the lecture, in spite of all explanations
and commentaries, no interaction could be elicited with
any of the illustrations, either heard or seen.
I was overcome by the memory of having lectured in
that very auditorium twenty-one years earlier, in 1971,
to an equally polite and passive student audience, and
by the awareness that I was repeating many of the things
which already then had seemed so pressing. Too often,
the only reaction on the part of the students was: "Do
I have to know it?" - a leitmotif invariably followed
by: "Will it be on the exam?" Both manifested Frye's
view that students' anxieties "make the primary response
to whatever is being said." (50)
Bright and talented students came to university each
year, and I gave them a questionnaire asking them to
list, beside their repertoire, some of the piano recordings
they owned, the concerts they had heard, the radio/TV
programs they listened to, and the books that were important
to them as young musicians. Year after year many of
the pages remained blank. And Gould was never mentioned.
Both in the earlier, and in the 1992 university lectures,
I had tried to recreate for others the wonder of the
spell I had felt when I first heard the music by English
virginalists performed by Gould. This was a heritage
that my generation in Italy had only read about, but
I was to learn that to Canadian piano students it represented
an equally unknown dimension. Thanks to Gould, before
music departments relegated this repertoire to the performance
practices of Ancient Music, I included the study
of the Virginalists in a course I called "The Road to
Because reading "in the full sense of referential recognition"
is no longer part of their schooling, (51) and because
Gould's essays contain such a rich world of references,
students in my piano literature classes found it too
onerous an undertaking to read them. I encouraged them
to discover why "no other piano virtuoso in our day,
save Brendel, writes as persuasively as Gould did,"
(52) and left my copy of the Glenn Gould Reader
on library reserve (with a warning on the wrapping:
"Do not leave marks or signs!"). I have the copy
on my desk as I write - it had hardly been touched.
The title of my 1971 lecture was "Shootin' at Piano
Players" - an echo, it would seem, of what Frye called
the "militant job" of teaching. Indeed one could paraphrase
Frye and say that at university, it is the teacher of
piano who is in contact with the student's total musical
experience and "sees most clearly...what kind of enemy
it has to fight. What faces him is not simply a mass
of unexamined assumptions but a complete and mostly
phony mythology, made up of cliche and prejudice and
stock response." (53)
Once more, in 1992, I was attempting to activate an
imaginaire that was not there and to appeal to
points of reference, Canadian ones, that the students
could not share. I showed the photo of the six distinguished
Canadians brought together to celebrate Canada's Centennial
on July 1, 1967. (54) Of course, most of that audience
belonged to the generation born after that year,
the year of "Expo 67," Terre des Hommes. It was
in that year that I elected Canada as my "spiritual"
home. For a newcomer to be greeted by this picture,
it truly represented a symbolic convergence - both a
reassurance and a promise. In order to begin teaching
in a climate of shared symbols, I was keen to learn
the "points of reference" of my new Canadian environment.
In the photo, all the symbols seemed to be in place.
There was the resonance of the setting: it evoked to
someone of my generation the endings of some 1930s and
1940s American films, which we had only been able to
see after World War II. The name of Sir Ernest MacMillan
had long been familiar to me from the short-wave radio
- the airwaves being the principal musical tutor for
my generation in Italy (Rattalino often refers to this
shared apprenticeship). Sir Ernest had founded in Canada
the kind of Conservatory system that I had missed in
the U.S., one that seemed to promise the existence of
a national musical education, of a striving toward the
building and the sharing of a collective musical sensibility.
Among the students in my 1992 audience nobody recognized
Sir Ernest, though they did recognize Gould; they hesitated
about McLuhan; the names of A.Y. Jackson and Morley
Callaghan were known to some; few had heard of actress
Kate Reid. I told them that I would have liked to see
Northrop Frye in the picture (he had last visited the
UWO campus in 1989, shortly before going to Bologna),
because I had found uncanny overtones of Frye's teaching
in the writings of Gould. (56)
By 1967, Gould was no longer performing in public.
In the Canadian cultural context in which, as a newcomer,
I viewed Gould, one of the most important references
was the radio. "No matter what, there'll be the CBC,"
my Midwestern friends reassured me, when I expressed
some apprehension about moving to London, Ontario in
1967. Indeed, news about Gould's original radio programmes
had reached us at Indiana, and this to me was again
a promise of a radio and TV that were forging a collective
artistic sensibility. But as I mentioned earlier, there
was no "CBC" in London. When a concert of mine was broadcast,
friends phoned me from Toronto to tell me I was on the
air. Colleagues would drive halfway to Toronto on the
401, to hear themselves on the car radio.
Strangely, there was at the time no campus radio at
the University of Western Ontario to offer the kind
of serious alternative that existed at American universities.
Umberto Eco has written about American campus radio
in one of his columns, citing them as examples for the
three Italian national networks to follow, as representing
the most adequate solution to their hopeless financial
and political squabbles! Fine broadcasts, he suggested,
can be managed by just a couple of people giving brief,
discreet introductions to well-chosen programmes.
I have kept two "talismans" from that period: the confidential
minutes of a meeting held to discuss the establishment
in Stratford of an Academy of Arts, Music, and Drama;
and a letter from two professors at Western, themselves
newcomers, outlining the project of a classical radio
station on campus. Neither plan was allowed to became
a reality. (57)
To conclude the "diversions" of my 1992 lecture at
UWO, I presented the audience with slides of the Parade
into the Future that had taken place in Toronto
earlier that fall during the first Gould conference.
as a "magical celebration, ... a pageant of sounds and
images based on the imagination and ideas of Glenn Gould,"
this parade very much resembled an old-fashioned, Italianate,
Metro youngsters clad in blue smocks were holding
placards - i vessilli - on poles, with effigies
of Gould. They were led by a sort of village band consisting
of three "keyboard" accordionists with red caps (red?
not tweed? well, for TV...), who were playing, udite,
udite, the Aria from the Goldberg Variations.
Did the number three stand for the Thirty Variations?
Or, was there a hint at the "numerological significance"
of the Gould family names? ("they jointly tally III,"
wrote Gould in the witty conclusion of his "Bodky on
Bach" review, "a figure that renders all further comment
On the far right, an iceberg float (The Idea of
North), with a miniature Gould figure sitting on
top, could be taken to represent "the statue" in a religious
procession. Other children in white smocks held note-like
black balloons, others gloves with moving fingers; others
still carried large phonograph records, discs, on their
backs, swaying and cavorting along. Alas, the little
girl rolling her disc whom we asked about Glenn Gould
had no idea who he was.
I sought solace, whispering to a distinguished European
guest, "It's a bit slow...isn't it?" "Better," he snapped,
"so one can take pictures!"
In 1978, our Faculty hosted a national symposium on
CBC and Music. I remember intervening, inspired by the
same outsider's puzzlement, and the same perception
of Canadian resources, technology, and capabilities,
as did Rattalino in 1989. There were impressive displays
all around, and self-congratulatory handouts about the
CBC music programmes, and all the new technological
marvels and linkages. Speaking as a resident teacher,
I asked the distinguished guests whether they realized
that we had no direct access to CBC programming. I pointed
out that there were consequences, not only in the whole
spectrum of communal musical reception, but especially
for the development of large numbers of young music
students from Ontario and other areas, who came to university
without having previously absorbed what instead their
peers from Toronto and Montreal could. I added that
it was puzzling to see the passive acceptance of this
situation by the teaching profession... No one responded;
only Keith McMillan, the son of Sir Ernest, had some
friendly comments for what I had said, afterwards, outside.
There are still parts of Canada where there is no access
to the CBC and where the airwaves are filled with the
sounds of American rock and country music stations;
yet among the young people in these same regions one
finds the finest musical potential. One of our graduates,
who is teaching in a school in the Far North, told me
that he has become so exasperated with the situation,
that he has been busy in our music library, making tapes
of classical repertoire to take along for the benefit
of his classes.
When later in 1978 the CBC did become directly available
to us, it sponsored a fine series of concerts, Festival
London, to celebrate the event. One concert, "Berlin
in the 1920s," by the Stratford Ensemble conducted by
Raffi Armenian, included Schoenberg's cabaret songs
and seemed especially apt to attract music students.
Alas, only a handful of them attended. Habits had not
been formed, and their priorities were elsewhere. The
next morning, I stormed into the hall where two hundred
students were sitting and passively taking notes in
a Music History class. I chided them for having missed
hearing the previous night's concert and for not celebrating
the CBC event. I reminded them that it had taken (for
me) eleven years to have the presence of the CBC in
town. Uncomprehending, disapproving looks and murmurings
about "exams" were the only reaction. Gould's "inner
ear of the imagination" had little chance of being developed
in a system that favoured learning data and evaluations
of music, while bypassing all preliminary assimilation
of its sound.
(It was ironic that by the time we had direct access
to the CBC, it had ceased to be the edifying national
presence we had longed for. Most of the classical music
programmes have been in the hands of a series of opinionisti
for whom the highest significance of a piece, or of
a performer, is that it is their favourite. The
listeners' existing level of perception is reinforced;
the familiarity of the repertoire remains reassuring
, and any awareness of Gould's creative participant
would find no market appeal.)
I became used, at the end of my lectures, to have students
express their appreciation, but without any questions,
or personal reactions to what had been presented. Their
passivity, and their inability to interact, seem to
me only a manifestation of that contemporary musical
climate which Luciano Berio describes as being one without
a real "interlocutor." What he says, referring specifically
to the music of American composers, pertains also to
Gould's world of ideas: "It...has nobody to really address
itself to, no cultural or spiritual destination, even
sub-consciously. In other words, it lacks a real 'market'
of musical ideas that strive to represent a possible
stage of being. It is fundamentally a music of solitude
because, ironically, it lacks the vehicle of a market
in a society where market value seems to be the necessary
prerequisite for the recognition of anything at all,
even the very things that the market inevitably destroys:
human and cultural ideals." (59)
That is why it is only the "irrelevant" side of Gould,
as Elisabetta Rasy called it, that is made available
by the media to North American audiences. His ideas,
if understood, would indeed threaten the entire scaffolding
of fallacies that govern much of musical education and
musical life in North America. I appropriate Gould's
term "the tyranny of appraisaldom" (GGR,341)
to define the factor that dominates not only institutionalized
musical study but the musical world as the students
know it. It is a most anti-Gouldian environment, in
which the system of appraisals - in applied departments'
"juries," in press reviews, in radio programs - determines
students' choices and conditions their entire musical
perception: "When people who practice an art like music
become captives" of the assumptions of the system, Gould
told music graduates in 1964, "they put themselves out
of reach of that replenishment of invention upon which
creative ideas depend."(GGR,5)
Gould's art was immune to acceptance, as Monsaingeon
said, (60) and he abhorred the "menace of the competitive
idea" with its "emphasis upon consensus" and its power
to leave the young "forever stunted." (GGR,225)
As Dewey admonished, appraisals and ratings "arrest
the perception of those who are influenced" by them.
This "obtrusion" by the system "is sign of failure to
apprehend and perform the function of becoming a factor
in the development of sincere personal experience."(61)
And, one may add, of that critical sensibility, discernment,
and independent thinking that could help counteract
the prevailing cultivation of passivity.
The "tyranny of appraisaldom" has taken such hold in
the Canadian cultural environment because of the hidden
prejudice that feeds it. Frye described it as a "modified
form of mercantilism."(62) It still governs all perception
of culture and arts in Canada, and can easily be traced
among the entire spectrum of media and institutions.
The notion that university "is not there to reflect
society, but to reflect... the reality that lies behind
the mirage of social trends" (63) has never seemed in
greater opposition to its functioning today. One could
very well apply to the teaching in music departments
Steiner's comment that, progressively, our "inheritance
is caught between the semi-literacy of the mass market
and the Byzantine minutiae of the specialist." (64)
The clich of "demand" is invoked to justify the ancillary
role to market and entertainment that the musical profession
has been assuming. To accede to the "demand" is to reverse
exactly both Gould's and Frye's central counsel and
example. It is, in fact, "to consolidate the level"
at which the demand is posed, (65) to ensure that the
young hear only their own voice "coming back from the
four walls." (66) By not giving priority to the imaginative
potential of the uninformed, the development of genuine
interaction is obstructed.
In its advertisements, the institution that has appropriated
the name Glenn Gould Professional School promises, under
the heading "Communication," to teach how to tailor
performance "so that it's relevant to your listeners'
interests and experience." To be "marketable" has been
made into an artistic goal and a desirable aesthetic
Canadian music reviewers and radio commentators address
themselves solely "to the reflexes" of the listeners,
not to their imaginative potential and intelligence.
(67) Even in the commendable Sony and CBC releases of
Glenn Goulds' recorded legacy, the shift has been from
a service to the artist to the "prepackaged selectivity"
(68) that best serves the level of perceived demand.
As Rattalino pointed out, chronological releases would
not only honour the artist but would also favour the
"consumer," by helping the listener to approach the
artist - to interact with his world and perhaps become
a creative "interlocutor."
"It is a community of preoccupations that is most likely
to fecundate friendship," writes Bruno Monsaingeon.
(69) In this sense, the name "Friends of Glenn Gould"
bodes well: a society of "dedicated connoisseurs," serving
the artist and his music, and making available to a
wide audience the hidden capital of Gould's wisdom,
may well be able to perform the task of transforming
It is a transformation that is unlikely to happen through
academia. Universities continue to seek remedies in
new buildings, in "improved" facilities and technology,
and in ever greater concessions. In departments of musical
performance, more academic requirements are diluted
or eliminated, Gould's "competitionitis" flourishes,
more career counselling is available, and more grants
are awarded. In this regard, I have often paraphrased
the question posed by Antoine de Saint-Exupry: I ask
to know not whether our students will, or will not be
happy, have job security, and achieve
success, but rather what kind of musicians
we are preparing to be successful, productive, and fulfilled.
In the Spring of 1990, while I was in Bologna, Bruno
Monsaingeon's Glenn Gould: No, non sono un eccentrico
appeared "with a poster as a bonus." At that time the
series of televised programs on Gould was broadcast
on the Italian cultural network. Although, as mentioned,
it happened in the middle of the night, VCRs did make
the series available to many. One is grateful that nowadays
a national television still keeps entire series of the
finest cultural programs open to anyone; that it still
invites the public to come to art and
music at its best. It is one of the reasons why in Europe
it is still more common than in Canada for the public
to be exposed so frequently to radio and television
programs on Gould.
In 1995, in Villefranche, during the second term of
classes at the Universit canadienne en France,
the local TV station was going to broadcast in prime
time Monsaingeon's 1983 series on Gould. It seemed the
perfect opportunity to have the students attend. There
were one hundred and fifty of them from all over Canada,
attractive, enterprising young people, who had worked
hard for the opportunity to spend a year on the French
Riviera. Of the thirty-two who enrolled in my music
courses, three had heard the name of Gould, and one
knew that he was a pianist.
It would have been ideal, therefore, to have the hypermedia
Glenn Gould Profile available as an introduction,
since the campus library was equipped with up-to-date
computer systems, and the students possessed incredible
skills with the technology. ("Is this your first visit?"
was the question in the Profile, that helped
those who were "overwhelmed with the range of choices
available." B.W. Powe and Ghyslaine Guertin were available
as "guides" in the system). (71)
In spite of good advertising on the campus, only a
couple of students came to watch the telecasts and to
hear their compatriot for the first time. There were
also opportunities for the students to hear a series
of interviews with young Canadian musicians studying
in France, which were broadcast over the splendid 24-hour
classical music network, France Musique. In the
admirable radio-program guide, there were articles and
interviews on Canadian performers, all of whom were
unknown to the students, and the same was true in the
numerous music journals available. The students were
encouraged throughout the year to avail themselves of
the opportunity to listen to any of the radio programs,
with their live and recorded concerts, and their intelligent
discourse and interviews - but in vain. It was not a
habit they cared to acquire.
As part of the music course, Gould's "The idea of
North," was being studied with the help of an excellent
outline (created by Prof. Gary Tucker of Mt. Allison
University) that made listening a little easier. The
concept of polyphony in musical and verbal communication
was of course very challenging for that class, and attempts
to create together a similar outline for another of
Gould's sound documentaries had to be abandoned. Because
"The Idea of North" had been commissioned for Canada's
Centennial in 1967, the class received some additional
information about that year's events in their country.
"Expo 67"s French title, Terre des Hommes, had
been taken from Saint-Exupry, and...
Inevitably, a student inquired: "Do we have to know
that?" "Yes, I said, it is a point of reference - and,
since you are now studying here in France, it would
be good to know about it, for Canada, for Gould..."
"No, it won't be on the exam"...
(1) Payzant, Geoffrey, Glenn Gould: Music & Mind
(Toronto: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1978), 57.
(2) Frye, Northrop, Divisions on a Ground: Essays
on Canadian Culture, ed. James Polk (Toronto: Anansi,
1982), 33. The Critical Path: An Essay on the Social
Context of Literary Criticism (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1973), 33.
(3) Berio, Luciano, Two Interviews, with Rossana
Dalmonte and Balint Andras Varga, transl. and ed.
by David Osmond-Smith (London: Marion Boyars, 1985),
(4) Eco, Umberto, Travels in Hyperreality, transl.
William Weaver (San Diego New York London: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1986), ix-x.
(5) Rattalino, Piero, Da
Clementi a Pollini: Duecento anni con i grandi pianisti
(Firenze: Ricordi/Giunti Martello, 1983), 374-376.
. See :"Two Book Chapters on Glenn Gould," by
P. Rattalino, Glenn Gould Magazine, 4/1, Spring 1998,
5-18. [Back to Text]
(6) Mila, Massimo, 'I volumi di Zurletti e Rattalino:
Fra Abbado e Mozart avanzano gli storici dell'effimero',
Tuttolibri, La Stampa, 11, no.464 (Aug.3 1985).
(7) Rattalino, Piero, 'Conferme', Piano Time,
11, no.122 (Nov.1993), 58.
(8) Rattalino, Piero, Grand Piano (I libri di
Symphonia, Bologna: Ermitage, 1996), back cover.
(9) Steiner, George, "Glenn Gould's Notes," The
New Yorker Nov.23, 1992, 137-141.
(10) Steiner, George, On Difficulty and Other Essays,
(Oxford New York Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1978),
(11) All these English versions
of the term fruitore appear in Renato Barilli: A
Course on Aesthetics, transl. Karen E. Pinkus (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1993). The term fruizione
is rendered as "enjoyment." [Back to Text]
(12) Said, Edward W., Musical Elaborations (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1991).
(13) A highly praised work of a divulgativa
nature, aimed at the non- specialist, is Rattalino,
Piero, "Il linguaggio della musica: una guida per
i non esperti (con un CD di esempi sonori illustrativi)
(Milano: Garzanti, 1997).
(14) Massimo Bogianckino and Giuseppe Sinopoli, respectively.
(15) D'Ettorre, Fabio Renato, review of Autori Vari,
La Ciaccona di Bach. Saggio di storia dell'interpretazione
(Edizioni Unicopli: [1990 ?]), Piano Time, gVIII,
No. 18 (February 1990), 80.
(16) The Glenn Gould Reader, ed. Tim Page (Toronto:
Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1984), 345, 348. Hereafter, GGR
will be included in the text.
(17) In Mondrian's vision,
"la nouvelle plastique se manifestera comme... musique
(quand les moyens d'expression en seront trouvs)...
se dplacera de plus en plus de l'oeuvre vers sa ralisation
dans la ralit palpable... nous n'aurons plus besoin
de l'artifice...quand nous vivrons dans l'art ralis!"
(Tout l'oeuvre peint de Mondrian, Introd. by
Michel Butor, Documentation par Maria Grazia Ottolenghi
[Paris: Flammarion, 1976], 11-14). [Back
(18) Since its inception in
the early 1970s, Bologna's DAMS has been considered
a sort of creative laboratory, a centre of critical
reflection on the world of culture. While in 1989 there
were no official courses in the Sociology of Music,
the implications of social and mass-media concerns were
included in the teaching of individual professors. [Back
(19) It was brought to my
attention that in the Psychology of Arts classes, not
offered in 1989-90, Prof. Berlyne's research had been
used - oh, did I not know it? But wasn't he at the University
of Toronto? [Back to Text]
In general, North American scholarly works are promptly
translated and made available to Italian students, and
if not, they may be assigned in the original. In the
Philosophy of Music course, the semester's textbook,
von Helmholtz's tome on the Sensations of Tone (1862),
existed only in partial Italian translation. The professor
simply distributed copies of the missing chapters from
the complete English edition and requested that they
be translated by members of the class. And the kids
did it, and copies in Italian were made for everyone.
(20) The English edition appeared three years later:
Music as Social Text (Cambridge: Polity Press,
(21) Nattiez explains the
reason in his Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology
of Music, transl. Carolyn Abbate (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1990), xi.
While it took nearly twenty years for Nattiez's major
work to appear in English (in the United States), I
discovered that in Umberto Eco's classes, students had
been introduced to essays by Nattiez already in 1972.
[Back to Text]
(22) Bollettino, Universit degli Studi di Bologna,
IV, No.6 (June 1989), 18-19.
(23) "Numerous Canadian poets, novelists, playwrights,
artists, and critics' spoke at this event (Bollettino),
(24) Glenn Gould's SOLITUDE TRILOGY: Three Sound
Documentaries, CBC Records - Perspective (1992),
(25) The four-part series, was sponsored by DAMS Musica
and by Musica/Media, a group of students from
both the Music department and the Institute of Communication.
Philip Tagg, Simon Frith, and Franco Fabbri were the
(26) "Alma Mater Studiorum," Rivista scientifica
dell'Universita di Bologna II, No.2 (1989), 135, 127.
(27) "Alma Mater Studiorum," 136. (Galassia
Gutenberg is the name given to a publishers' and
multimedia exhibition and fair that takes place annually
in Southern Italy.)
(28) Godfrey, Stephen, "Plugging into Gould's Legacy,"
Globe and Mail, October 20, 1990.
(29) Vettese, Angela, Il Sole - 24 Ore, January
(30) Godfrey, Ibid.
(31) Said, Edward W., "Remembrances of Things Played:
Presence and Memory in the Pianist's Art,"Harper's
(November 1985), 69-75.
(32) In a speech given in the early 1970s at our school
(33) According to Godfrey,
the Profile was developed by YYIATS Productions in Montreal
in association with the Banff Centre's Media Arts Program.
At the Toronto conference, the Banff Centre and the
Canadian Music Centre exhibited the Glenn Gould Profile
(by Henry See, B.W.Powe, Ghyslaine Guertin, 1989, unpublished)
within the series of programs Machine Mind Music: Realizing
the Musical/Technological Vision of Glenn Gould. [Back
(34) "Expertise in interactive media" is now offered
in the technology program of the Glenn Gould Professional
School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Advertising brochure 
(35) Rattalino, Piero, "Glenn
Gould in insalata capricciosa," MUSICA: Interpreti
Video & Compact Disc, 13, no.59 (Dec.1989-Jan.1990),
This vision of Canada is placed in contrast to the eternal
problems of Italy's inefficient centralization. During
my stay in Bologna there occurred the students' "occupation"
of the university, which lasted several weeks. Calling
themselves Damsterdamned, the students marched
and assembled and debated, denouncing the ancient, grotesque
regulations, the absurd bureaucratic obstacles of the
system. Just one example: the music library at DAMS
had been closed for the past two years, and the brief
opening hours of other departments' libraries coincided
with those of certain courses, including Eco's seminars!
(In 1983 Umberto Eco gave his audience in Milan a wonderful,
witty, description of one of the world's "ideal" libraries,
the University Library in Toronto. See Umberto Eco,
"De Biblioteca," in The Wild Is Always There:
Canada Through the Eyes of Foreign Writers, ed.
Greg Gatenby [Toronto: Vintage Books, 1993], 427-30.
[Back to Text]
(36) "Excavating the Latest
Gould Mine Yields Few Nuggets," Globe and Mail,
August 14, 1993. The recent CBC series of Gould historical
releases likewise eshews the chronological order of
the performances. [Back to Text]
(37) Said, Edward W., "Remembrances of Things Played,"
(38) Powe, B.W., The Solitary Outlaw: Trudeau, Lewis,
Gould, Canetti, McLuhan (Toronto: Lester & Orpen
Dennys, 1987), 164
(39) Friedrich, Otto, Glenn
Gould: A Life and Variations (Toronto: Lester &
Orpen Dennys, 1989), 146. [Back to Text]
At the Piano Academy in Imola in early 1990, I attended
an extremely comprehensive Mozart workshop by Rattalino
that was centred on the aspects of teatralita.
It was Alfredo Casella who first provided our generation
with this concept, in the preface to his Ricordi edition
of Mozart's Piano Sonatas, stressing the import of operatic
articulation, allusions, and characterization in Mozart's
style in general.
(40) Ibid., 105-107.
(41) Distler, Jed, "Gould Unspliced,?" IPQ International
Piano Quarterly, No.2 (Winter 1997), 72-80. Brahms,
Concerto No.1 in D minor, op.15: Melodram 234 (New York),
Music and Arts CD 297 (Baltimore).
(42) Del Buono, Oreste, "E un mito del piano? Allora
va punito," Diario TV, Corriere della Sera, June
(43) Rasy, Elisabetta, "Sul piano della leggenda,"
Panorama, March 15, 1987, 104-111.
(44) --------------- "L'eco delle voci," La Stampa
(Tuttolibri XVII, August 1992, 6.
(45) Barthes, Roland, The Grain of the Voice: Interviews
1962-1980 transl. by Lydia Coverdale (New York:
Hill and Wang, 1985), 3.
(46) Le Naour, Michel, "Gould, Glenn (piano, orgue),"
Le Monde de la Musique, No. 216 (December 1997),
(47) Monsaingeon, Bruno, "The Last Puritan," Glenn
Gould Variations - By Himself and His Friends, ed.
with an Introduction by John McGreevy (Toronto: Doubleday,
(48) Nattiez, Jean-Jacques, "Gould singulier: Structure
et atemporalit dans la pense gouldienne," in Glenn
Gould pluriel, ed. Ghyslaine Guertin (Verdun, Quebec:
Louise Courteau, ditrice, 1988), 81.
(49) Da Clementi a Pollini, 376
In his 1981 Conversation with Tim Page, Gould dismissed
Chopin as not a very good composer, saying that he "never
bothered to play any more Chopin" (GGR, 453).
(50) Frye, Northrop, The Great Code: The Bible and
Literature (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
(51) Steiner, George, On Difficulty and Other Essays,
(52) ------- Glenn Gould Notes, 139.
(53) Frye, Northrop, Divisions on a Ground,
(54) Payzant, Geoffrey, Glenn Gould: Music & Mind,
(55) Another point of reference
with which I was already equipped when I arrived in
Canada was the work of "O'Flaherty," about whom we read
after the war when we discovered film "documentaries."
To know about his 1920s Nanook of the North,
gave us and idea of the presence of a Far North, besides
that of a Far West.
Robert Flaherty, the first white man some of the "Eskimos"
had ever seen, also took photographs, some of which
were exhibited in Toronto in 1994; one is "of a laughing
Inuit man listening to the sound of a gramophone" (Kate
Taylor, "Into the Heart of Whiteness," Globe and
Mail, Febr. 26, 1994). [Back to Text]
(56 ) The equipment that had
been used at the Expo 67 Czech Pavilion was being donated
to the Film department of this enterprise; McMaster
University was ready to provide courses in Shakespearian
studies, the Faculty of Music at Western those in music.
It would have been a sort of small Canadian DAMS.
But for reasons of geographical proximity, the provincial
government denied support for the creation of a new
school. [Back to Text]
(57) Gould's presence in the
musical programs at nearby Stratford (in the early 1960s)
created expectations of continued high-level music making
in the London area. Later there came another figure,
a not so "solitary outlaw," a prime minister [Trudeau]
who spent time in Stratford, living on a train, attending
concerts with his music scores, consorting with actor
friends, and displaying his somersaults in the quarry
at St. Marys.... Exhilarating. Cultural context and
irreverence made the idea of Canada most attractive.
[Back to Text]
(58) It is interesting that
in 1961 Gould's performed in a televised "comedy routine
for children," in a series called "Parade." Friedrich,
Otto, Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations, 391.
[Back to Text]
(59) Berio, Luciano, Two Interviews, 56. The
term interlocutore is used only in the Italian
(60) Monsaingeon, Bruno, Glenn Gould: Variations,
(61) Dewey, John, Art as Experience (New York:
Capricorn Books, 1958), 324-25.
(62) Frye, Northrop, Divisions on a Ground,
(63) Ibid. 155.
(64) Steiner, George, On Difficulty, 194.
(65) Frye, Northrop, The Great Code: The Bible
and Literature (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
(66) ---- Divisions on a Ground, 151.
(67) ---- The Well-Tempered Critic (Bloomington:
Indiana Univ. Press, 1967), 42.
(68) Steiner, G., On Difficulty, 197.
(69) Monsaingeon, B., in Glenn Gould: Variations,
(70) "La question que je
me pose n'est point de savoir si l'homme, oui ou non,
sera heureux, prospre et commodement abrit. Je me
demande d'abord quel homme sera prospre, abrit et
heureux". Saint-Exupry, A. de, Citadelle, (France:
Gallimard, 1948), 95.[Back to Text]
(71) Godfrey, Stephen, Ibid.