The piano genius who made Glenn Gould look normal

The piano genius who made Glenn Gould look normal


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2020

An Austrian documentary on the brilliant Friedrich Gulda. He used to come on stage sometimes naked. With girlfriend to match.

With English subtitles.

Love Gulda.



  • Alphonse says:

    He couldn’t hold a candle to Gould. Not even close. And I mean in terms of pianistic and musical brilliance. Gulda was a charlatan- Glenn was not.

    • Novagerio says:

      Alphonse, before you write of Gulda as “a charlatan”, give his Gaspard de la Nuit a hearing, aswell as his early recordings of the complete Beethoven Sonatas…
      Excentric yes, charlatan – hardly

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Gulda often behaved unprofessionally, but his pianistic abilities were never in question (unlike his compositions…) . Listen for yourself to this:

      Arguably Mozart was one of Gulda’s greatest strengths, and Gould’s weakest links:

      And yes, I cherry picked the above recordings, because I strongly disagree with your above comments.

      Both Gould and Gulda great at Bach. Both were highly individual musically and personally.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      This is an extremely unkind and uninformed statement.
      Gulda was a brilliant pianist and musician.
      So was Glenn Gould.
      Both had their eccentricities. That matters not one whit in the face of their superb music-making.
      Perhaps, Alphonse, you should find a different interest than music. You obviously do not understand what it is you hear.

  • His forays into jazz are very interesting! He was quite a character. Love Gulda too.

  • Nina says:

    Gulda, I loved him so much! A genuine original, with more talent and imagination than most of us could cope with.

    • Tanya says:

      Agreed on all points. He comes across in the video as self-absorbed and monomaniacal, but that’s hardly unique in the world of successful musicians.

  • fflambeau says:

    But Gould was famous, Gulda, not so much.

    • MezzoLover says:

      And that’s just the way Gulda would’ve liked it.

      “So what?” He would’ve scoffed.


  • MezzoLover says:

    Ah yes – Friedrich Gulda and his star (and only) pupil, Martha Argerich.

    They are both extroverted recluses capable of making Mozart sound divine yet sensual. To me, listening to their Mozart is often akin to a religious experience.

    One of Argerich’s favorite Mozart concertos is the D Minor, K466. Several recordings exist of her performance of this concerto, all highly treasurable, but there’s something extra special about the one she gave in Tokyo on the composer’s birthday in 2005, as a tribute to her teacher. This is Argerich channeling Gulda, and the result is truly breathtaking.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Nelson Freire was also a Gulda pupil. Not as famous as Argerich but an excellent pianist.

      • MezzoLover says:

        I’m afraid that is not true. Freire went to Vienna to study with Bruno Seidlhofer, teacher of Friedrich Gulda as well as Rudolf Buchbinder, so the three were actually fellow students.

  • We privatize your value says:

    His naked girlfriend = Ursula Anders (born 1938), daughter of the tenor Peter Anders.

  • Doesnt work. Would you be so kind to indicate the DVD label, please?

  • Amos says:

    I don’t recall him being naked when watching the video of him performing the Emperor Concerto with George Szell and the VPO. Clearly, up to some point, he was a “conventional” classical pianist and then underwent a transformation. Perhaps a more interesting question would be what prompted the change(s) in his outlook?

  • M McAlpine says:

    I believe his coming on stage naked was limited to one occasion.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    And he’s tagged in TotallyLooksLike 😉

  • David K. Nelson says:

    My father told me that in a prior era it was Vladimir de Pachmann who was regarded as the great eccentric of the piano. We had a few of his 78s when I was growing up (still have them), which I assume his own father purchased.

    • Save the MET says:

      Pachmann was a party animal and by the end of his life did not have a single tooth and refused to wear dentures. He kept up his party lifestyle even toothless dining almost exclusively on spoonfuls of caviar.

  • Save the MET says:

    The main difference between Gulda and Gould is that Gulda knew how to have fun.

    • MezzoLover says:

      And Gulda didn’t sing along when he played, as far as I can tell.

    • Nik says:

      …and he liked being in front of an audience! Gould thought it a waste of time.

    • M2N2K says:

      Not necessarily. I am sure that Gould also knew how to have fun, but it was a very different way of having fun compared to Gulda and probably to most of us too.

  • IP says:

    No, he didn’t use to. He did one happening. After all, it is Vienna, the cradle of actionism. But, musically, he did not ‘make Gould look normal’. Gould destroyed Mozart, Beethoven, sometimes even Bach, Gulda played them for eternity.

  • Bernard Caplan says:

    Friedrich Gould & Glenn Gulda both incredible geniuses & both gone far too soon!

  • M2N2K says:

    Not necessarily true. Different people have different ways of having fun and I am sure that Gould knew his own preferences of how to do that. It is just that his way was very different from that of Gulda and probably from most of us as well.

  • Michael Lorenz says:

    A true pupil of the legendary Bruno Seidlhofer!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Ddid Gould and Gulda ever see Ollie Mustonin or Pogorelich perform?