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Glenn Gould's cult-like status

He adored Arrowroot cookies, Barbra Streisand and animals. He abhorred sunlight, the stage and airplanes. Eccentric, genius, solitary, head-strong, hypochondriac, virtuoso… all describe Glenn Herbert Gould, one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Gould was born on Sept. 25, 1932 in Toronto. His sudden death in 1982 at age 50 stunned the world, but his music and his legacy continue to inspire, delight and fascinate. We would like to thank the Glenn Gould Foundation for its assistance in this archival project.

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To celebrate what would have been Glenn Gould's 60th birthday, fans of all ages hold marches, dedicate plaques and statues and even dress like him. In this CBC news report his cousin Jessie Grieg says such adulation would have made the reclusive musician uncomfortable.
But as part of the Glenn Gould Gathering taking place in Toronto, everything from his hotel keys to his pianos to his trademark wool hat and gloves are on display.

Ten years after Glenn Gould's death, the world's fascination with the great pianist, thinker and innovator shows no sign of slowing down.
• As part of the 60th birthday celebrations, a life-sized Glenn Gould sculpture was unveiled. Created by Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy, the sculpture is based on Don Hunstein's famous photograph of Gould on a park bench. Tourists from all over the world come to sit on the bench, located outside the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in downtown Toronto.

• The Friends of Glenn Gould is a society for people with an interest in Gould's ideas and his music. Founded in 1995, it has members in 36 countries. The society publishes a magazine twice a year called GlennGould. The magazine's name comes from Gould's signature which appears to some as one word.

• There have been numerous books, plays and films about Glenn Gould. The award-winning film Thirty-Two Short Films about Glenn Gould presents a unique, impressionistic look at the eccentric musician through short vignettes. David Young's play Glenn looks at Gould's life, art and ideas.

• He also has prizes named after him. First awarded in 1987 by the Glenn Gould Foundation, the Glenn Gould Prize recognizes exceptional contribution to music through the use of any communications technologies. The prize is awarded every three years and has a purse of $50,000.

• In 1977 NASA launched its twin Voyager spacecrafts. Aboard each is a copper recording and a record player with visual instructions on how to make the machine play. The record includes Gould's C major prelude and fugue by Bach. NASA included the recording as an example of humanity's best on its goodwill mission in search of life.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 25, 1992
Guest(s): Jessie Grieg, Alexina Louie, David Young
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Paul Hunter
Duration: 2:39

Last updated: January 23, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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