CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Medical clues that Glenn Gould may have had autism

The Story

The constant humming, the feverish conducting and fanatical fear of germs are eccentricities that define Glenn Gould as much as his Goldberg Variations. Years after the musician's death, Gould's unusual behavior continues to be a source of intrigue. Timothy Maloney, a musical historian studying Gould's manner and habit, concludes that he may have suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. According to Maloney, people with AS demonstrate exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. But because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, they are often viewed as eccentric or odd. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. This CBC news report shows reaction to Maloney's theory from Gould's friends, fans and critics.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 1, 2000
Guest(s): Timothy Maloney, Helen Mesaros, Ray Roberts
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Adrienne Arsenault
Duration: 2:45

Did You know?

• Asperger Syndrome or Asperger's Disorder is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger.

• Glenn Gould wrote obsessively about his own physical diagnosis such as the number of hours he slept, his blood pressure and what he ate. He was a hypochondriac who would pop pills at the onset of the slightest malady.


Glenn Gould: Variations on an Artist more