A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jul 15, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
8 Reviews
Glenn Gould was famous for his obsessions: the scarves, sweaters and fingerless gloves that he wore even on the hottest summer days; his deep fear of germs and illness; the odd wooden "pygmy" chair that he carried with him wherever he performed; and his sudden withdrawal from the public stage at the peak of his career. But perhaps Gould's greatest obsession of all was for a particular piano, a Steinway concert grand known as CD318 (C, meaning for the use of Steinway Concert Artists only, and D, denoting it as the largest that Steinway built). A Romance on Three Legs is the story of Gould's love for this piano, from the first moment of discovery, in a Toronto dept. store, to the tragic moment when the piano was dropped and seriously damaged while being transported from a concert overseas. Hafner also introduces us to the world and art of piano tuning, including a central character in Gould's life, the blind tuner Verne Edquist, who lovingly attended to CD318 for more than two decades. We learn how a concert grand is built, and the fascinating story of how Steinway & Sons weathered the war years by supplying materials for the military effort. Indeed, CD318 came very close to ending up as a series of glider parts or, worse, a casket. The book has already been lauded by Kevin Bazzana, author of the definitive Gould biography, who notes that Hafner "has clarified some old mysteries and turned up many fresh details."

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User Review  - lolitaguy - LibraryThing

Fascinating and insightful look into the habits of a great genius. Gould comes off looking like a sensitive artist, and not like a "nut job" as in some bios. Read full review

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User Review  - akblanchard - LibraryThing

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was well-known as an eccentric genius. He searched all his life for a piano that could play music as he heard it in his head, and he finally found it in CD 318, a Steinway ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Katie Hafner is a correspondent for The New York Times, and also a dedicated amateur pianist. Before joining the Times in 1998 she worked at Newsweek and Business Week. She is the author of four books, three of which concern technology and the Internet: Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (with John Markoff) ; Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet (with Matthew Lyon); The Well: A Story of Love, Death and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community; and The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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