New exhibition celebrates the life and genius of Glenn Gould

March 6, 2007

New exhibition celebrates the life and genius of Glenn Gould

Gatineau, Quebec, March 6, 2007 — Glenn Gould was one of the most celebrated Canadians of his generation, a classical pianist renowned internationally for his musical genius and his unconventional style. This year, on the 75th anniversary of his birth, Gould’s remarkable story will be told in a major exhibition developed by the Canadian Museum of Civilization in partnership with Library and Archives Canada.

Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius will trace his development from child prodigy to international concert star to recording and media artist pioneer. Along the way, it will recall his surprising departure from the concert scene, and examine the personal charisma and idiosyncrasies that helped make him a cultural icon.

The exhibition will open at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Ottawa-Gatineau, on September 28, 2007, the week of Gould’s birthday. Close to three-quarters of the objects to be displayed are on loan from Library and Archives Canada — including key, rare manuscripts, letters and photographs. They are all testominies of major landmarks in Gould’s amazing career.

“Glenn Gould was an extraordinary Canadian whose creative work as a musician, writer, and media producer was shaped by his northern vision,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “This exhibition will reveal his unique genius to a new generation. It will also delight and inform his most ardent fans.”

“Library and Archives Canada is proud to be involved in this important exhibition. It is a great opportunity to share with Canadians documentation from our vast music collection that highlights interesting aspects about the career of this extraordinary musician,” stated Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

Glenn Gould: The Sounds of Genius is a multimedia exhibition. It features sound recordings, taped interviews and videos, as well as an impressive array of artifacts, including Gould’s beloved Steinway piano and the specially modified folding chair on which he sat while playing. The exhibition also brings together, for the first time, a large collection of Gould’s letters, manuscripts, publicity posters and personal items. Throughout the exhibition, Gould speaks to us through his writings, media productions and music.

“The primary purpose of the exhibition is to remind Canadians of the many facets of Gould’s musical genius,” said curator Sam Cronk. “But we also examine his trail-blazing work in studio production, and in radio and television programming. He was a multimedia artist decades before that term came into vogue.”

Glenn Gould was born in Toronto in 1932. His exceptional musical gifts were apparent very early in life. As a three-year-old, he could read music; at five, he was composing and performing for family and friends; at 15, he had his professional debut as a concert pianist, playing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In 1955, the 23-year-old made his first recording of his signature piece: 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.

But just nine years after his vault into stardom, Gould made his final, controversial exit from the concert stage. Performing for a live audience had become unbearable for him — physically, emotionally, and artistically. Gould then turned his attention to the produc