Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was a musical genius - a child prodigy whose rise to world fame was jump-started in 1955 by a sensational recording of Bach's daunting Goldberg Variations. As his career continued to blossom, Gould made his mark as a world-renowned pianist, composer, and conductor but also demonstrated his talent and intelligence as an influential critic, essayist, philosopher, actor, comedian, and filmmaker. But along with his charm, Gould was tragically disturbed - a recluse with nocturnal work habits, obsessed by physical and mental complaints, he relied heavily on prescription drugs. He consulted scores of doctors, avoided intimacy, and never married. Struggling against lifelong physiological and psychological problems that always threatened to overwhelm him, Gould neglected his health and died prematurely at age fifty of a massive stroke. Glenn Gould's life raises many questions about the phenomenon of genius. Was Gould's genius sponsored by his eccentricity or vice versa? Do men and women of genius sacrifice themselves in the service of a higher ideal while remaining personally unfulfilled? Dr. Peter Ostwald, a professor of psychiatry noted for his expertise in psychobiography and a skilled violinist who played chamber music with Gould, captures the brilliant fusion of genius and eccentricity that composed this highly mysterious and appealing figure.
 

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GLENN GOULD: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius

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One of Gould's friends memorializes the virtuoso pianist. Ostwald, a psychiatrist and violinist who died last year, met Gould in 1957, when both were in their 20s, after Gould's California debut, when ... Read full review

Glenn Gould: the ecstasy and tragedy of genius

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The late writer, psychiatrist, and musician Ostwald concluded his series of performer biographies (e.g., Vaslav Nijinsky: A Leap into Madness, LJ 11/1/90) with this portrait of Canadian pianist Glenn ... Read full review

Contents

Foreword by Lise Deschamps Ostwald
11
Introduction
13
THE CONCERT
17
A LITTLE NIGHT Music
25
INFANCY
35
CHILD PRODIGY
43
A CHILDHOOD FRIEND
57
NEW TEACHERS AND FURTHER SUCCESS
67
STRANGE ILLNESSES
159
IN SEARCH OF A HOME
171
DR JOSEPH STEPHENS
185
THE PITFALLS OF COMPOSING AND
200
RETIREMENT FROM THE STAGE
215
THE SOLITUDE TRILOGY
230
CHANGING VIEWS OF COMPOSERS
244
IMPERSONATOR PHILOSOPHER AND
258

GAINING A MANAGER
81
Mv LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE
89
SELFISOLATION
98
TRIUMPH IN THE STATES
111
FIRST CONTACT WITH PSYCHIATRY
120
CONFLICTING DEMANDS
130
TELEPHONE CALLS
142
TRAVELING OVERSEAS
149
NEW FACES NEW CHALLENGES
271
APPROACHING MIDDLE AGE
286
THE LAST YEARS
304
A FATAL STROKE
320
Epilogue and Acknowledgments
332
Notes to Sources
337
Index
359
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Peter F. Ostwald published several biographies of performing artists, including Schumann: The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius and Vaslav Nijinski: A Leap into Madness. He died, shortly after completing this book, in 1996.

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