Rarest Gould: Canadian maverick plays Dutch medievalist

Rarest Gould: Canadian maverick plays Dutch medievalist

Daily Comfort Zone

norman lebrecht

January 08, 2022

On a modern piano, of course.

Daniel Poulin writes:
Gould played the Sweelink Organ Fantasia (arranged for piano) as part of his original recital in the U.S. first in Washington on January 2/1955 and then in New York one week later (Jan.11). He also played it as a first encore at the end of his concert in Moscow on May 7/1957.

“At the end of the recital, bravos and applause again echoed through the hall. Soon the applause turned into a rhythmic clapping, the greatest compliment an artist can be paid in this country. And then the encores began…” (Walter Homburger)

Gould performed it twice for CBC TV, first on October 11/1960 -seen here in this video- (it was his very first complete TV show for CBC Toronto that featured Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata) then on June 17/1964 in the Festival Series.



  • Peter San Diego says:

    Medievalist?! Sweelinck (1562-1621) straddled the Renaissance-Baroque divide. Gould’s performance is a marvel (if it must be performed on a piano).

    By the way, what’s that styrofoam cup doing on the floor below the bass end of the keyboard? Would germophobe Gould ever drink from a cup set on the floor?

    • Daniel Poulin says:

      What a sharp-eyed observation! My guess: the cup was left by a crew member (stage-hand more than likely) and went obviously unnoticed by the director. One thing for sure: it was not Gould’s cup.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Beautiful piece…. but not medieval: Sweelinck was a 17C composer, so: late-Renaissance or early-Baroque.

  • Caio says:

    What an artist. I never get tired of him.

  • Leo Samama says:

    The title is wrong. Sweelinck was all but a medievalist. In fact, he was the one of the last of the Dutch Renaissance composers ( and of the view real Dutchmen) and the first of a long Barock tradition!

  • Christopher Hosford says:

    I noticed the cup right off! And the boy’s hair! It looks like it hasn’t been washed for a week and he just got out of bed without benefit of comb! He is a marvel and a genius, but the gyrations during the slow section are hard to watch.