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Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius
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Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  160 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was a child prodigy and a musical genius whose 1955 recording of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" catapulted him to world fame. He was also plagued by lifelong depression, was terrified of playing before live audiences, and consumed prescription drugs by the handful. He died at fifty of a massive stroke. In this acclaimed biography, the late ps ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published May 1st 1997)
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Marianne Meyers
Jul 28, 2011 Marianne Meyers rated it really liked it
Overall, a very informative book on Gould, especially his formative years and early concertizing. How interesting to be his friend, a violinist, and a psychiatrist, the author offers interesting insight into Gould's life. The drug use is overwhelming, barbituates, thorazine, valium, basically pills filling the pockets of that old coat he wore. He'd open the bottles and pour them in! Geniuses don't necessarily work well with others and Gould was a self-proclaimed loner. The author suggests that G ...more
Ben Batchelder
Dec 17, 2013 Ben Batchelder rated it liked it
A friend in Tiradentes lent me Peter Ostwald’s Glenn Gould. I read few biographies, and none of musicians’ that I recall, so I hesitated. But books in English are hard to come by here, and the same friend hosts a weekly classical music night at his home, so I dove in recently.
Ostwald, a Gould friend, fellow musician, and psychiatrist (who never treated Gould directly), had written several books on musical themes prior to tackling this reminiscence/portrait, including the nexus of madness with th
Mike Cuthbert
Jul 04, 2016 Mike Cuthbert rated it it was amazing
To me, an instrumentalist but not a pianist, the life of Glenn Gould, Canadian pianist, was always somewhat of a mystery. I read stories of his behavior, his withdrawal from the concert scene into almost mystical recording sessions, and his many sicknesses—or were they? Gould was a classic hypochondriac and cancelled concert events and recording events with increasing frequency as his career progressed. One of the reasons he loved the recording studio so much was because it allowed him sanctuary ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Debbie rated it it was amazing
A POV of Canadian pianist/composer Gould by a psychiatrist who met him as an accompanying violinist with Gould. Dr. Ostwald, who passed away from cancer only months and finishing this book (but never saw it published), knew Gould for 15 years.

This is the first of three major biographies of Gould that I've read.
My belief is that Gould developed Social Phobias, but did not have Asperger's. (A common, poorly-developed "modern" theory. Absurd!)
Sep 22, 2010 Derek rated it liked it
Dude was a freakshow.
Aug 03, 2007 Terence rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gould fans
pretty tragic
Apr 04, 2012 Lixi rated it it was amazing
I read it a chapter a day at lunch break last summer. I treasured every word of this sincerely written biography. I love the pianist and I couldn't care less his humming during performance or paranoia about germs. His Bach is a revelation and his Brahms gives me the most romantic feelings. Dr.Oswald, I believe, truly cared for him as a dear friend. That's why I see not only a genius, but a nature-loving and light-hearted human being from this great biography. I am grateful everyday for having hi ...more
Jul 15, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
I could not put this down as I came close to understanding the true man behind the mask of genius. Glenn Gould was always quoted in my classes as being the definitive authority on J S Bach. After reading this deeply insightful and compassionate book, I would add some qualifications to that view.
Jul 30, 2011 Isidore rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
An entertaining and informative study of Gould's personality. For the record, the married woman (unnamed by Ostwald) with whom Gould had a lengthy affair was the wife of conductor/composer Lukas Foss.
Mar 27, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
An incredible biography by one of the century's most important musicians.
Cara Steger
Sep 22, 2008 Cara Steger rated it liked it
I swear, Aubrey, I will finish it and get it back to you. One day!
Apr 11, 2008 Mawr rated it it was amazing
A very detailed and thoroughly-researched biography of the greatest musical genius to come out of Canada.
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