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Justin Trudeau: ‘Glenn Gould is someone Canadians are specially proud of’

June 27, 2017 by norman lebrecht

26 comments.


The Canadian prime minister talks about the piano icon in a short BBC radio interview with James Rhodes. ‘He embraced disruption in classical music,’ says Trudeau.

‘He is someone who, at a time when Canadians didn’t really feel they had a cultural imprint on the world, he was it. He transcended the Canadian modesty… we tend to need to have validation from outside our borders. He was so recognised as a giant in terms of music that he was someone Canadians are especially proud of.’

Listen here.


Comments (26)

  1. Alexandra Ivanoff says:

    Reality check just a little south of Ottawa.
    Trump: “Who the hell is Van Cliburn?”

    1. MUZAK says:

      You have a source for that comment? Just can’t stop being a stupid leftist. Obama admitted to not knowing much about the classics.

      1. conscientious objector says:

        Oh, come on…When the Cleveland Orchestra played a Cleveland Cljnic benefit that happened to take place at Mar-a-Lago, Trump made the musicians enter through the servants’ entrance…lot of respect for music and musicians there for sure!!

        1. Sue says:

          No different than for Haydn, apparently.

        2. Pianofortissimo says:

          Maybe there were practical reasons för that.

    2. Petros Linardos says:

      What is the connection between yet another uninformed comment by that soulless moron and this article?

    3. Steinway Fanatic says:

      Cliburn and Trump were in fact well acquainted.

  2. Ungeheuer says:

    Music to these ears. Well stated.

  3. Steven Holloway says:

    I’m not entirely with Justin T. on this. In 1977 there was in London a city-wide celebration of Canadian artists — exhibitions of the visual arts, readings by authors, performances of Canadian music and by Canadian musicians. A huge success on a grand scale. Just after, there appeared in the Vancouver Sun newspaper a long article, written by someone who clearly didn’t even know about the London festivities, complaining that Canadian arts and artists are regarded as second-rate colonials. And this insular, nationalistic attitude has not changed. I sometimes fear it has become necessary to the Canadian identity. And there is an element of self-defeating deliberation in it. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra back in the ’80s managed to get Rudolf Barshai as its chief conductor — briefly, for the orchestra got rid of him. It badly needed a shake-up, an element of rebuilding, but when they discovered that Barshai was a bit demanding, something of a disciplinarian, that he wanted members replaced — rebellion. Do Canadians really appreciate what they have? Legendary Ida Haendel lived in Montreal for ten years before she was invited to perform even with the MONTREAL SO!! Nationalistic authors insist on being published by Canadian publishers with minimal international distribution, and then complain that their foreign sales are meagre. But how are Canadian artists received elsewhere? Well, there are or were Margaret Atwood, Angela Hewitt, Maureen Forrester, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Louis Lortie, Robertson Davies, Nezet-Seguin, James Ehnes, Alice Monro, Rohinton Mistry…It may be noticed that the musicians tend very much to settle in other countries. There are a number of reasons for that, but I also note that those born in or immigrants to Canada who remain in the country tend to get lost. One prime example is Anton Kuerti. The reasons for that are numerous, but at bottom it all amounts to this tendency to insularity in the arts and the singularly outdated notion that if the country is not to be swallowed whole by the U.S. every piece of Canadian artistic outlook must be imprinted with a maple leaf. Pace the PM, art does need recognition, not “validation”, outside a country’s borders to be eventually established as ‘great’. Otherwise, a country’s artistic life settles into nothing but navel-gazing. There were and are superb Canadian artists much lauded abroad. It’s getting Canada to recognize that fact that is the problem, for the still-prevalent attitude holds back Canadian artists.

    1. Costa Pilavachi says:

      Sorry, I am not sure what point you are trying to make. I don’t see much insecurity expressed by Canadian artists, any list of which must include such entertainment business giants as Céline Dion, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Diana Krall and many more, not to mention a never-ending stream of top level Canadian classical artists, some of whom you have mentioned. Most are quite famous and well-supported by their fans in Canada, but like artists who come from countries that are somewhat smaller (in population) than the cultural superpowers USA, Russia, Japan, France and Germany, it is completely natural that they will seek fame and fortune beyond their national borders. Glenn Gould is part of a tiny group of classical music icons who have, if anything, increased in fame since their deaths. In that category I would place Caruso, Toscanini, Callas, and possibly Pavarotti. Gould is a massive symbol recognised worldwide and his identity is very strongly Canadian. Canada is so far from navel-gazing, it is one of the few countries with a genuinely international outlook which should serve as an example to the two leading English-speaking countries who are currently experiencing a frighteningly insular moment…
      An international Canadian.

    2. Sue says:

      Actually, as a nation of clever people, I’ve always thought Canada punched well above it’s weight.

    3. Quincy Liu says:

      This article has appeared in NYTimes with exquisite timing about Canadians’ self imposed/inflicted modesty.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/opinion/sunday/canada-doesnt-know-how-to-party.html

      On July 1 is the 150 anniversary of Canada, and the Canucks can’t even agree whether they should have a party or not. I find this rather charming.

  4. boringfileclerk says:

    There’s lots to praise about Glenn Gould. He was a serial philander, drug addict, possible schizophrenic, social recluse, musicologist of dubious merit, and overrated interpreter of Bach. That said he could sell LPs like nobody’s business, and was one of the first true international Canadian celebrities.

    1. Sue says:

      “Serial philanderer” and “social recluse” don’t seem to belong in the same sentence, somehow.

      1. Hilary says:

        His private life has only come to light in more recent years but ‘serial philanderer’ seems to be overstating the case.

  5. Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    I am a devoted admirer of Glenn Gould, especially fascinated by his writings and TV programs.

    However, could anyone please specify in more detail, what characteristics of Glenn Gould are typical Canadian, except that he is of Canadian nationality?

    I think he is a quite unique personality, even a bit eccentric, which also implies that he has little in common with other people, including his fellow countrymen?
    Upon hearing his name, I never spontaneously associate it to his motherland Canada.

    As to other Canadian musicians whom I like very much, such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Marc-André Hamelin, I don’t see any common national attributes among them. They even speak drastically differently as Glenn Gould did!

    Another example: while we can say Astor Piazzolla is representative of Argentina, what is so typical Argentinian about Martha Argerich, who is certainly world class artist, whom the Argentinian people can be proud of?

    1. Nate says:

      GOULD obviously thought he was channeling Bach when he played. Watch his recordings the humming and contortions seem out of body. Is cool to think that maybe Bach did play through GOULD. Maybe Bach channels through each of us. Might have been his plan. Either way GOULD and Bach are having a mighty laugh at the trivialities you sleeve bags are engaging in.

  6. Respect says:

    All human beings should be proud of GlennGould….

    As to the comment about why Canadians immigrate, answer is simple: geographic proximity to career, like most of the rest of us. Wonderful country, proud to be southern neighbor, but turned down an ensemble in Vancouver because the difficulty of travel. My loss.

    1. Sue says:

      I really don’t know what ‘serial’ philandering has to do with Gould’s piano playing. If we make value judgments about that then out go Leonard Bernstein and Carlos Kleiber – just to name but two!!!

    2. Steven Holloway says:

      I am not so sure about your second point. Why should such as Hewitt have to live in London, Ehnes in Florida, Lortie in Berlin, Hamelin in Boston to have made their international careers? They are not ensemble players nor conductors. The suggestion made in my earlier comment is because of a problem with conditions in Canada, partly a matter of attitudes, partly systemic. Re your first point, “All human beings SHOULD be proud of Glenn Gould…”??? My emphasis. To do so is an obligation, a matter of the right thing to do? If so, I’m very naughty indeed. As they were not my doing, I’m certainly not proud, i.e., taking vicarious credit, for the few performances of his I quite like. And I’m certainly not doing the reverse — taking the discredit for what he perpetrated on Bach and Mozart, to name the two obvious victims.

      1. M2N2K says:

        The crime he “perpetrated” against Bach consists mainly of creating brilliantly realized revelatory interpretations of many of the composer’s keyboard masterpieces that combine deep respect for the texts with imaginatively and innovatively bringing their musical content into perfect harmony with late last century’s sensibilities, which is why most of his Bach recordings are well on their way to become timeless musical treasures.

        1. Steven Holloway says:

          We hear a lot of such from his fans, but there are more of us who, for the most part quietly, have a very different view of most of his Bach than may be suspected. I have great respect for his Goldbergs and the concerti, but I’m afraid that’s it. But on this we must surely just agree to disagree.

          1. M2N2K says:

            Agreed.

  7. debussyste says:

    He was a true genius in certain pieces of Bach ( Golberg variations for exemple ) but he butchered Mozart ( the piano sonatas ! ). In Beethoven, he was good but not that original. And for a “genius” he said A LOT of silly things : about Mozart, Chopin, Horowitz ect …

  8. Geoff R says:

    In Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, one of the daily newspapers offered “MUSICHISTORY*150” a mix of Canada’s 150 historical moments. These ranged in date from 1880 to 2017. There were only three classical musicians included, the great Glenn Gould, Angela Hewitt and Ben Heppner.
    No mentions of the many world famous musicians, born in Canada and who delight their audiences around the world. Leopold Simoneau and his wife Pierrette Alairie wowed audiences at the Met and other great opera houses were not on the list. Calixa Lavallee, who wrote the music for the national anthem, O Canada, was #1 on the list. No mention of the awarding of the Prix Calixa-Lavallee in 1959 to Simoneau and his wife.
    Another name is Barbara Hannigan born in Waverley, Nova Scotia who is now both a singer and a conductor and is currently appearing at Glyndebourne in the opera Hamlet, recently received an Honourary Doctorate from Mount Allison University. Most Canadians seem to only familiar with the current pop ‘stars’ like Drake, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber and Shania Twain. There are so many other Canadians that deserved to be part of MUSICHISTORY150 and are being almost totally ignored by the media. Shame!

  9. Geoff R says:

    If you want to see the Glyndebourne production of Hamlet it will be shown on Medici.tv on July 6 2017 at 12.00 noon EDT


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