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1962: Bernstein and Gould don’t see eye to eye

The Story

In 1962 there is a highly publicized incident between Glenn Gould and conductor Leonard Bernstein at Carnegie Hall in New York. In later years, this night would be cited as one of the reasons the very private Gould would stop giving public performances. In this clip, Bernstein disassociates himself and the New York Philharmonic from Gould's unorthodox interpretation of Brahms's First Piano Concert in D minor. Bernstein prefaces the concert with the famous phrase, "Don't be frightened, Mr. Gould is here..." Bernstein tells the audience that while he respects Gould, he strongly disagrees with his interpretation of Brahms piece. Following the introduction, Gould plays the first and last movement of the concerto at an extraordinarily slow tempo.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio Special
Broadcast Date: April 25, 1962
Guest(s): Leonard Bernstein
Announcer: James Fassett
Duration: 3:48
Photo: Paul Rockett, courtesy of Elliott Contemporary, Toronto

Did You know?

• Leonard Bernstein made his dramatic New York Philharmonic debut on Nov. 14, 1943. Due to illnesses and poor weather conditions, the virtually unknown 25-year-old would get less than a day's notice before he was handed the responsibility of conducting one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Bernstein said that he remembered virtually nothing from the first downbeat until the standing ovation that greeted him at the end.

• Gould had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, especially piano music, but his recorded repertoire focused on a limited number of composers. He preferred Bach, Beethoven and Schoenberg. He also recorded the music of Gibbons, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Gunnar Berg, Anton von Webern and Paul Hindemith. He recorded all of Mozart's piano sonatas but his attitude towards the composer remained ambivalent.

Also on April 25:
1940: Quebec women receive the right to vote and run for office in provincial elections.
1950: The federal government and six provinces sign an agreement to build the Trans-Canada Highway. It is officially opened in 1962, but not completed for a few more years.
1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway unofficially opens as the first ship enters the locks south of Montreal.


Glenn Gould: Variations on an Artist more