CBC Digital Archives

Glenn Gould on his eccentricities

Glenn Gould is eccentric. And right from the start critics spend as much time commenting on his incessant humming, the heavy overcoats, wool berets and gloves he wears even in the sweltering summer heat as they do on his playing.
They write extensively about his "odd behaviour." Gould doesn't like to shake hands. He soaks his hands and forearms in near-scalding water.

He sits very low at the keyboards -- hunched over, often with his legs crossed -- and has a habit of conducting himself while playing whenever a hand is free.
Gould addresses his unconventional mannerisms openly in this exclusive 1958 interview for CBC Radio program Assignment with Hugh Thomson, the distinguished music critic of the Toronto Daily Star.
• Glenn Gould's long phone calls were legendary. He had a small but very loyal group of friends. Gould kept close contact with his friends by telephoning them at all hours of the night. One of his closest confidants was his cousin Jessie Grieg. He spoke to her daily. She eventually had to enforce a policy of no calls after 11 p.m.
• He had a fear of flying but was very fond of cars, trains and boats.

• Sometime between two and three every morning Gould would go to Fran's, a 24-hour diner a block away from his Toronto apartment, sit in the same booth and order the same meal of scrambled eggs.
• Gould loved animals. "By the time I was six," he confessed in a 1979 documentary Cities: Glenn Gould's Toronto, "I made an important discovery that I get along much better with animals than humans."

• Gould was a keen player of the stock market. He would telephone his trader several times a day to sell and buy stocks.
• In 1964 Gould was awarded an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from University of Toronto. In his speech to the graduating class, Gould advised them not to put too much weight into what others thought but to follow their own path and to be true to themselves.

For more on the life of Glenn Gould, see the CBC Digital Archives topic Glenn Gould: Variations on an Artist.
Medium: Radio
Program: Assignment
Broadcast Date: July 15, 1958
Guest(s): Glenn Gould
Interviewer: Hugh Thomson
Duration: 9:44

Last updated: March 28, 2014

Page consulted on March 28, 2014

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