GLENN GOULD IN THE NORTH OF ENGLAND

Kate Shapero Glenn Gould 2 Comments

In September 0f 2014 my husband, Eric and I were invited to give a talk in Yorkshire, England the following year, to the Women’s Institute. Having been visiting the Yorkshire Dales since the early 1980’s we had come to know and love Wensleydale and to have met some of the people involved with the “WI” in the tiny and delightfully beautiful village of Gayle.

For those of you who do not know of the Yorkshire Dales, it is a large area situated within a National Park which is comprised of 680 sq. miles. The park was created in 1954 to preserve its great beauty and agricultural way of life in perpetuity. Within the Park there are many villages and the rural areas are vast and are comprised of gorgeous, wild scenery, sheep, farmers with their very important sheep dogs to help them in their work, picturesque stone barns, dry stone walls criss crossing the landscape, many of which are hundreds of years old. Those of you who are familiar with James Herriot’s books, “All Creatures Great And Small” will relate to the unique rural area.

We were invited to talk on whatever subject we desired, so of course Glenn Gould immediately sprung to mind and the subject was embraced, although the name of the famous pianist was completely unfamiliar to our hosts!

During the spring of that year, we prepared our talk and kept in touch with our WI contact, sending along a photo of Glenn for publicity purposes. The audience arrived at dusk, and we began our presentation which went very well. As I was speaking I remember looking out of the window onto a scene of green hills rising above us dotted with sheep surrounded above by a muddy purple sky….In the corner of the room, under the window sat an empty chair and in my mind’s eye I visualized Glenn sitting there very happily observing with great glee the entire affair. I shall always remember somehow knowing that he would have been delighted with all of this….this audience of very ‘real’ down-to-earth people gathered in this tiny village hall tucked away in a pastoral setting of such tranquility and beauty, being talked about, and hearing samples of his music playing. I had and still have the feeling that this little ‘concert’ would have perhaps meant more to him than Carnegie Hall!

Upon concluding the talk, the President said that we had presented something “very special, which exceeded our expectations”…and with tears in her eyes she thanked us very much. The following morning one of the ladies who attended the presentation the night before was walking her go and stopped us to say that she was so excited and interested in Glenn, that she was on her computer until 2:30 a.m. learning more about him!

It was certainly a night to remember, and it felt like the spirit of Glenn Gould resided in a tiny lecture hall tucked away in the North of England!

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About the Author

Kate Shapero

I am an avid classical music listener, Lover and Collector of Antiques, Environmentalist, Animal Lover, and Have a Passion For All Things Glenn Gould.

Comments 2

  1. I thought to share an experience with you I had last summer. I found one of Glenn’s albums at a second hand store with his help. We were vacationing on the west coast of the United States. I love rummaging through second hand stores and I had an inkling to go to a certain one. In my mind’s eye, I saw Glenn. He was smiling, almost giggling, quite engaging, and “said” that if I went to this store that I would find one of his albums. My husband almost missed the turn as I insisted that we go. It then became a guessing game. You know how Glenn loved guessing games. I found the LP’s, 4 shelves packed full. Glenn was beaming. He knew where it was and I did not. I decided to go at it, one album at a time. There were signs along the way that I was on the right track. Recordings by Leonard Bernstein, Russell Oberlin, Shostakovich, Barbra Streisand, people that had been a part of Glenn’s life in one way or another. When I would find one of these familiar faces, he would smile and say, “Not yet! Keep looking!”
    Finally, I was on the last row and near the end was Schoenberg Complete Songs for Voice and Piano, Vol. 1, Glenn Gould, piano. “Bingo!” With a big smile on his face, his image faded from my mind. Yes, it is an unlikely story and highly imaginative yet I found the album and I now own it. Who is to say? I had no tangible reason to believe that I would locate one of his albums, other than this imaginary encounter with him that occurred as it is written. I believe, as do you, that Glenn was sitting in that empty chair at the little WI “concert” and indeed, found more pleasure in it with the down-to-earth countryside setting than he would have in Carnegie Hall. Thank you for allowing me to share.

    1. An addendum to my comment – it was a Stokowski LP not Shostakovich – a significant slip in the world of Glenn Gould, considering his well-defined preferences.

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