Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius
September 28, 2007 - August 10, 2008
Glenn Gould playing the organ in the concert hall of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, ca 1945. Source: Library and Archives Canada/Glenn Gould fonds/MUS 109-290. Courtesy of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Reproduced with the permission of the Estate of Glenn Gould and Glenn Gould Limited.
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The Life of a Genius

The exhibition replays the central chords of Glenn Gould’s life, which began in Toronto on September 25, 1932, and ended in Toronto in 1982, following a massive stroke.

Glenn Gould was born in Toronto in 1932. His exceptional musical gifts were soon apparent. As a three-year-old, he could read music; at five, he was composing and performing for family and friends; at seven, he took his first exam at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, where he later studied theory, organ and piano. At 15, he had his professional debut as a concert pianist, playing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Glenn Gould had a happy childhood. His first piano teacher was his mother, Florence Emma Grieg. In 1943, he began studying with Alberto Guerrero, a Chilean-born pianist, at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Intelligent and cosmopolitan, Guerrero remained his teacher for nine years, inspiring Gould’s appreciation for Baroque and contemporary classical works. The young Gould also took organ lessons, which had a great influence on his musical development.

In 1955, the 22-year-old made his first recording of his signature work: Bach’s beautiful and challenging Goldberg Variations. The recording earned him international acclaim and made the young man a full-blown celebrity. He toured Europe, the United States, Israel and the former USSR. During his career, he performed with the most celebrated orchestras and conductors such as the philharmonic orchestras of New York (with Leonard Bernstein) and Berlin (with Herbert van Karajan).

A new beginning
Before long, however, performing for a live audience became unbearable for Gould. Exhausted by celebrity and enduring a myriad of health problems, he questioned his career as a concert pianist. On April 10, 1964, in Los Angeles, at age 31, Gould gave his final public concert.

He then focused on recording. Over the next decade, he released 32 albums. Gould also turned his attention to the production of radio and television documentaries, and conducting.

In 1982, Gould’s new recording of the Goldberg Variations was released. He conducted a chamber orchestra, and was planning future projects. But those plans never materialized: On October 4, 1982, just days after his 50th birthday, Glenn Gould died from a massive stroke.