Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius

September 27, 2007

Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius
Extraordinary musician takes centre stage in new major exhibition

Gatineau, Quebec, September 27, 2007 — The most comprehensive exhibition ever presented on Glenn Gould opens today at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau-Ottawa. Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius was developed by the Museum in partnership with Library and Archives Canada to mark this year’s 75th anniversary of Gould’s birth and the 25th anniversary of his death in 1982.

Gould was one of the most celebrated Canadians of his generation, a classical pianist who earned critical acclaim and commercial success at home and abroad. The exhibition traces his development from Toronto child prodigy to international concert star to recording- and media-artist pioneer. Along the way, it explores the personal ideas and music that helped make him a cultural icon.

Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius is a multimedia exhibition in which Gould serves as the principal host, speaking to us through taped interviews, his writings and media productions, and of course his music. The exhibition also features a remarkably rich and varied collection of artifacts. Among the many highlights are Gould’s beloved Steinway piano, the folding chair specially modified to fit his unusual playing position, and a custom-tailored tuxedo and tails he wore on stage. The exhibition also brings together, for the first time, a large and diverse collection of Gould’s letters, manuscripts, publicity posters, and personal items.

“Glenn Gould commanded the world’s attention because of his extraordinary accomplishments and his intriguing personality,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “He also won respect at home for his unabashed love of this country and for his artistic vision, shaped by our northern landscape. We’re proud to honour his memory and explore his legacy.”

“Gould’s musical genius is the primary focus of the exhibition,” said curator Sam Cronk. “But we also examine his trail-blazing work in studio production, and in radio and television programming. As visitors will discover, Gould was a multimedia artist decades before that term came into vogue.”

Three-quarters of the objects and documents displayed in the exhibition are on loan from Library and Archives Canada (LAC), including rare manuscripts, annotated books, and photographs. As the official repository for the archives of Glenn Gould, LAC is the leading source of documentary evidence relating to his personal life and musical career.

“It is a great honour for us to play a key role in this fascinating exhibition,” said Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “By bringing together and sharing with Canadians a wide variety of artifacts from our musical collection, including his piano, his manuscripts and personal letters from our National Collection, Library and Archives Canada contributes to illustrate the genius of Glenn Gould from a number of different perspectives.”

More Than a Musical Genius
Gould’s extraordinary success as a classical pianist has been attributed to many things, ranging from his gift of perfect pitch to his bold and uncompromising artistic vision. Music experts have marvelled at his mastery of the keyboard, his unique phrasing and tempo, and the passion and honesty of his performances.

Gould’s work away from the keyboard was also exceptional. He was an innovator among classical musicians in the use of studio recording techniques. In his quest for