Who’s calling Beethoven cold? Glenn Gould slugs out an interview

Who’s calling Beethoven cold? Glenn Gould slugs out an interview


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2021

Humphrey Burton is on the receiving end.

Fascinating playing as ever.

Did he ever own a jacket that fitted him?

Search ‘Gould’ on www.slippedisc.com for many further video gems.


  • E says:

    Just incredible! What a glorious
    way to begin the day, listening to
    this and the part 2 that follows on. Thanks for posting!

  • Nikos Salingaros says:

    I get the disturbing feeling that Gould is making all of this up. He plays strictly by instinct, which in the case of Beethoven leads him to alternate flashes of genius with willful perversion. But his superior intelligence enables him to come up with very convincing arguments and to talk about them in an erudite manner. Ultimately, they don’t make musicological sense to me, but only serve as a platform to criticize everybody else. Not very generous of him.

    • Herb says:

      Genius and willful perversion, as always, went hand in hand with Gould. I had always found his spoken and written material very entertaining, and even quite funny at times. At one point, I compulsively read almost everything he wrote. On the other hand, the brilliance of his playing and his sheer musicality, odd as it also was, were one of the great marvels of the music world. That is why we keep coming back to him.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It was an unbearable man, arrogant, posing as an intellectual (his so-called ‘academic writing’ is unreadable, unintentional satire). And here he is getting worked-up about simple oldfashioned playing which has meanwhile died-out.

      As about tempi: it is known that Beethoven himself was rather caual about tempi in performance, both in chamber music and symphonic pieces, often speeding-up or slowing down. And when he played his sonatas, his imbalances in tempo were noticed by his contempories as ‘excentric’.

  • Westfan says:

    Fascinating, can you imagine this being shown on television today, in any country?

  • Rabengeraun says:

    OMG he was definitely a genius – with all the pros and cons of that term

  • CRogers says:

    Well. I only know GG by reputation, being primarily a vocal fan, but a fascinating encounter and demonstration. GG memory seems extraordinary, at his finger tips. A rich vein of inquiry….. Thank you.

    • MICHAEL L CONLAN says:

      I’m pretty sure GG had several Richard Strauss operas committed to memory, orchestra, vocals, the works.

  • Alwyn Wood says:

    A pity Mr Gould doesn’t give as much weight to musicality as he does to tempi.

  • A Major Gouldian says:

    Inimitable Glenn Gould! He had a brilliant non-conformist mind and his recordings are works of art. Sure, he said things that were controversial on purpose, and we’re still talking about him and his ideas.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      He always came across to me as an egotistical pseudo intellectual devoid of a sense of humour.

      • There was a film about him a few years back and he definitely had a sense of humor. He also loved dogs and little children. Dont judge a person from their
        public/professional stance. He had a private life that was quite different….not to mention his wild four year affair with Cornelia Foss, who found him fascinating…as indeed I did just seeing him in the film. Charismatic to put it mildly.

  • Stephen Gould says:

    This is excellent – and a great demonstration not only of Glenn Gould’s intellect but also of his wit.

    (No relation, btw)

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Too much talk and too much Gould in the music.

  • Tatiana Gelfeld says:

    Gould, bravo!

  • Tom says:

    I read somewhere that his interviews were scripted in advance (by him of course). Not surprising for someone who seemed to be averse to anything spontaneous such as giving concerts. I still like his Bach recordings though. It’s just regrettable that his interviews are neither interesting nor as enlightening as they are supposed to be.

  • David Eastwood says:

    Try listening to his recording of Beethoven op. 73 which he references. I managed it once, and had immediately to listen to Kempff. There were other ways of expunging the memory of the most willfuly perverse recovering I have heard, or could imagine; in fact almost any of my other recordings would have suffice. With Gould there is no poetry, no sense of beauty, no grandeur and, above all, no profundity.


    What I particularly like about GG is the way he exposes the largely experimental character of the Beethoven sonatas.