BOOKS: UNRAVELING GLENN GOULD

WAS HE A GENIUS? WAS HE IMPOSSIBLE? YES AND YES

The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was a musical genius whose keyboard mastery rivaled--surpassed, he believed--that of Vladimir Horowitz. Yet his extraordinary gifts were tempered, and finally undone, by psychological illness. At the time of his retirement from the concert stage in 1964, at age 31, he was almost as famous for his eccentricities as for his talent. He would sit hunched over the piano in a low rickety chair, his eyes and arms barely higher than the keyboard, occasionally draping one leg casually over the other. He audibly vocalized the music as he played, and often used a free hand to...

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