Glenn Gould, The Russian Journey

The 1957 project

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Program notes

The date is May 2nd, 1957. Stalin died four years prior and "Perestroika" is still a long way off. However, the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who is just 24, arrives in Moscow for an exceptional tour: he is the first North American musician to play behind the iron curtain.

To achieve something so incredible months and months of negotiations were needed. This is the story the documentary tells by revealing documents from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that had remained classified for years.

It is hard to imagine the ponderous, mistrustful Soviet bureaucracy having to deal with a young man as uncontrollable as Glenn Gould. Yet, that is what happened, which undoubtedly caused nightmares for many people. The interpreter still recalls Gould flatly refusing to sleep in the finest hotel in Moscow because the bed wasn't exactly as it should be. The solution was found at the Canadian embassy.

Witness accounts from musicians such as Ashkenazy and Rostropovitch, the original recordings of his concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, as well a recording that had never been released before of his lecture-recital in Leningrad make this an invaluable documentary revealing a whole side of Glenn Gould's past that few people are aware of.

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