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1982: Pianist Glenn Gould dies

The Story

Two days after his 50th birthday, one of the world's greatest pianists suffers a massive stroke and dies a week later. The world is shocked by Glenn Gould's unexpected death, which is all the more shocking given the extreme, almost neurotic, lengths Gould took to avoid getting sick. "I remember him as an odd young man," Canadian opera singer Maureen Forrester recalls fondly in this clip. Gould was known for his eccentricities. He abhorred shaking hands, the stage and sunlight but was very fond of Barbra Streisand, J.S. Bach and animals.

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Oct. 4, 1982
Guest(s): Maureen Forrester
Host: Barbara Frum
Duration: 4:27

Did You know?

• Glenn Herbert Gould was born on Sept. 25, 1932 in Toronto. He died on October 4, 1982 in Toronto.

• Gould and Forrester first performed together in 1954 when they were both in their 20s.

• Gould's family had a history of high blood pressure and strokes. Gould's mother had also died from a massive stroke in 1975.

• A 23-year old Gould first catapulted into the international spotlight with his recording of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, one of the most difficult pieces ever composed for the keyboard.

• Glenn Gould made headlines for his brilliant piano playing as much as for his odd behaviour. He was known for his incessant humming, heavy overcoats, wool berets and gloves he wore even in summer and his distaste for the stage.

• In 1964 at age 32, Glenn Gould stunned the world by quitting the stage, declaring "the concert is dead."

• Glenn Gould's last public appearance as a pianist was in Los Angeles on April 10, 1964. Retiring from the stage so early in his career meant Gould had time to concentrate on making recordings. His output was impressive, producing more than 80 recordings.

• Gould also had a quirky sense of humour. He enjoyed dressing up and taking on different personas. Two of his most famous made-up characters included British conductor Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornwaite and Theodore Slutz, a New York City cabdriver. He impersonated these personas for broadcast as heard in a CBC radio segment called Critics Call-Out Corner.

• His eccentricities have led some expert to speculate that Gould may have had Asperger syndrome, a disorder related to autism.

• Gould is buried in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetary.


Glenn Gould: Variations on an Artist more