Glenn Herbert Gould was born in Toronto, September 25 1932 and died October 4 1982. He was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.

After his adolescence, Gould rejected most of the standard Romantic piano literature including Liszt, Schumann, and Chopin. Although his recordings were dominated by Bach, Gould’s repertoire was diverse, including works by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, pre-Baroque composers such as Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Orlando Gibbons and William Byrd, and such 20th-century composers as Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg and Richard Strauss. Gould was well known for various eccentricities, from his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard to aspects of his lifestyle and personal behaviour. He stopped giving concerts at the age of 32 to concentrate on studio recording and other projects.

Gould was also known as a writer, conductor, and broadcaster of innovative radio documentaries. He was a prolific contributor to musical journals, in which he discussed music theory and outlined his musical philosophy. His career as a composer was less distinguished. His output was minimal and many projects were left unfinished. There is evidence that, had he lived beyond 50, he intended to abandon the piano and devote the remainder of his career to conducting and other projects. As a broadcaster, Gould was prolific. His output ranged from television and radio broadcasts of studio performances to musique concrète radio documentaries about life in the Canadian wilderness.

photo courtesy of June Chambers

318 Productions

“We have been touched by the music
and the life of Glenn Gould.”

318 Productions consists of Eric, Kate and Josh Shapero. We have been touched by the music and the life of Glenn Gould. This journey began in about 2005 when Kate heard Bach being played by Gould one day on the radio in Toronto. “ It was a moment that changed my life, and I was compelled to learn more about this man and his music….. so much of his personality seemed to come through to me through that piece…….” I acquired all of the books about him that I could find, and all of his music, and all of the films about him, and became very obsessed with the subject!

Josh became fascinated with Glenn after seeing the Canadian Film, “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould” which was released in l993. He was a student in Film at the time and after seeing this, he was very affected by the portrayal of Glenn by Colm Feore in this masterpiece. This portrayal sparked his interest and thus he proceeded to enquire of my Dad, Harry Mannis (his grandfather) about Glenn, as we knew that Dad had worked with Glenn on his radio documentaries. He also enquired of My Aunt Lillian, as she had quite a few telephone conversations with Glenn, as he would call her periodically to talk about animals. We also had a beautiful Border Collie that Glenn had found wandering lost outside the CBC building and my Mom and Dad adopted him.

When I became smitten with Gould in 2005, (my dear Dad and Lillian no longer alive), Josh’s interest became rekindled. In 2007 Josh and I attended a celebration of what would have been Glenn’s seventy-fifth birthday and spoke to some people there whom we knew about, and through our conversation with them, decided that it would be wonderful to film people who knew Glenn and capture their memories before it was too late. People seemed to have marvellous tales to tell about their relationships with him, which did not seem to have been in any of the books that we had read.

I received permission from the Glenn Gould Estate to proceed with the project, and so began the job of contacting the people we knew we wanted to participate in our filming. We began filming in the summer of 2008, and to date have over 70 wonderful people who have participated in this archive. We are still filming when the opportunity presents itself, and so it is an on-going process.