Provocative and stimulating in what he said or wrote as well as in his playing, Glenn Gould brought a dazzling intellect and the instincts of a composer – albeit a prematurely retired composer – to his piano playing. His decision to present himself to the world through the medium of recording, coupled with the proliferation of the LP and then the CD, led to his name becoming virtually synonymous with Bach’s keyboard music; but he espoused the causes of composers from Orlando Gibbons to Arnold Schoenberg. His radio and television programmes were ahead of their time and he would have thrived in today’s world of instant communication.
1927: Begins occasionally playing in public.
1940–52: Studies music theory, organ and piano at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, earning his associate diploma, with highest honours, at age 12.
1947: Professional recital and concerto débuts.
1953–55: Composes his String Quartet, Op.1.
1955: American début, with recitals in Washington and New York; signs a contract with Columbia Records.
1956: Release of his first recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which brings him international attention.
1956–64: Tours worldwide as virtuoso, earning praise and arousing controversy wherever he goes.
1964: Retires from public performance, citing temperamental, moral, and musical objections to the concert medium.
From 1964: Devotes himself to studio recording, broadcasting and film-making; makes countless radio and TV programmes for the CBC, including seven innovative “contrapuntal radio documentaries”.
1972: Arranges and composes music for the film Slaughterhouse-Five.
1973: Grammy Award for “Best Album Notes – Classical” to his own release of the complete cycle of Hindemith’s Piano Sonatas.
1982: Posthumously, two Grammy Awards for his re-recording of the Goldberg Variations.
« I tend to follow a very nocturnal sort of existence mainly because I don't much care for sunlight … And my moods are more or less inversely related to the clarity of the sky, on any given day. As a matter of fact, my private motto has always been that behind every silver lining there is a cloud. »